Google Arts & Culture Digitizes Artifacts Following Brazil Museum Fire

“Earlier this year, 20 million irreplaceable artifacts housed by Brazil’s National Museumwere lost in a fire. As the museum did not have a platform for viewing most of these works digitally, many people feared that their memory would be lost forever. However, thanks to a two-year-old project spearheaded by Google, a lucky selection of these priceless pieces will live a second life online.

 

In 2016, Google Arts & Culture teamed up with the Museu Nacional in an effort to digitize its collections. Using Street View imagery, the initial goal of this undertaking was “to bring their collection online—so that anyone, anywhere in the world could see and learn about these ancient artifacts.” Since the fire, however, this project has served a much greater purpose.

With a couple clicks of a mouse, users are transported to the museum as it once stood. Featuring high-resolution photographs that offer 360-degree views of both the artifacts and the galleries they once inhabited, this invaluable project lets users wander through the lost museum and wade through some of its destroyed objects. Ancient sculptures, scientific specimens, and Luzia, the oldest fossilized human remains found in the Americas, are just some of the pieces immortalized in this virtual treasure trove….”

Google Virtual Tour Preserves Collections Destroyed in Brazil Museum Fire | Smart News | Smithsonian

“In early September, a fire roared through the 200-year-old National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, destroying up to 90 percent of its precious collections. The extent of the damages was “incalculable,” Brazil President Michel Temer stated on Twitter at the time. “Two hundred years of work, research and knowledge have been lost.”

 

While it is true that little can be done to restore so many of the museum’s irreplaceable specimens and artifacts, a recently launched Google Arts & Culture project hopes to see the institution live on in the digital realm. As Kelly Richman-Abodou reports for My Modern Met, Street View imagery has made it possible to take a virtual tour of the museum as it stood before tragedy struck.

In what would prove to be a fortuitous collaboration, Google started working with the National Museum of Brazil in 2016 to digitize the museum’s collections and capture its interior through “high-resolution photography, photogrammetry, 3D laser scanning, and virtual and augmented reality,” writes Chance Coughenour, program manager of Google Arts & Culture, in a blog post. Google has embarked on similar projects with many other museums and heritage sites, but its partnership with the National Museum of Brazil has become particularly important in the wake of the fire….”

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