On December 10, the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage joined over 2,000 leading museums, archives, and numerous Smithsonian units in partnering with Google Arts and Culture to share high-resolution images and videos from our Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Center researchers, and collaborators.
Google Arts and Culture is an online platform that lets visitors explore artworks, objects, cultures, and places around the world from the comfort of their homes. Visitors can interact with images in a number of ways—such as art selfies that compare your face to famous paintings—discover cultural sites through virtual tours, learn from curated stories, and use many other educational tools. Users can also like and share images and create their own collections of favorite pieces, places, and stories.
The Center is pleased to join the platform to increase the public’s access to and awareness of some of the rich materials in our collection. The Center’s page opens with Lag Zo: Making on the Tibetan Plateau, which features fieldwork with nomadic ethnic Tibetan communities in China. In January, the Center will add a second feature, Discover Storied Objects from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival (1967–2017), which shares the stories of some of the sculptures, pottery, costumes, and other crafts created at Center’s signature annual event.The site also includes a growing collection of images and videos from between 1965 to 2019. Whenever available, the images link to our collections finding aid for visitors to explore the full collection in the Smithsonian Online Virtual Archive (SOVA).
These online exhibitions allow our audiences new ways to learn and engage with our materials and will spark an interest among new audiences perhaps not familiar with the work of the Center. The Center’s Google Arts and Culture profile is an ideal addition to our other online resources in a time when we must continue to absorb most of our cultural nutrients virtually. It will also complement our in-person experiences, when those return, providing additional context for the Folklife Festival and other programs.