Students are able to experience natural history, arts, and culture in ways they never could before using the free resource Google Arts and Culture. This resource contains over 32,000 works with thirty-one mediums and materials from over 151 museums and art organizations located all over the globe. A small team of employees created the concept following a discussion on how to adapt Google technology to make museums' artwork more easily available to the public. In early 2018, the resulting product went viral after releasing its "art selfie" platform. The concept of the "art selfie" allowed users to find their art likeness by matching user faces to art museum portraits compiled within its vast database. Google Arts and Culture can be used in a plethora of ways within an educational setting and can be readily used across all content areas. Two of its best features include the sheer volume of work available through simple searching as well as the interactive features that allow users to experience artwork and history first-hand without ever having to leave the classroom.
On the main page users are directed in a simple visual display to their various and robust activity options. Included in the platform are virtual reality experiences of a variety of art galleries and of cultural locations from around the world. One noteworthy experience involves a VR Story in 3D video from the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. It is narrated in English and features the original bones of a Brachiosaurus, the highest mounted dinosaur in the world. In the video the dinosaur walks off the platform and comes to life. This experience is truly something to be seen with or without virtual reality headsets. Another unique experience for users is the ability to zoom in on some of the greatest works of art of all time. Users can magnify a variety of selected art works for a high-definition visual experience, and see high-quality personal details up-close from artists like Monet and Van Gogh. The "Street View" feature also takes users on virtual field trips to some of the world's most iconic locations such as The Taj Mahal and St. Paul's Cathedral.
Educators and school library media specialists will find a variety of educational videos through the resource's built-in YouTube channel as well as a "DIY" section which allows students to experience a routine day in the life of a museum curator. Also included in this section are interactive activities for students which are similar to those available if touring a museum in person. The "What's Next" page lists resources and links to history timelines, art toolkits, and lesson plan ideas. When users are logged into their Google accounts they can also "favorite" items within the platform and add works of art to their own galleries, which would make a great foundation for long-term projects and art lessons involving research. The possibilities for cross-curricular digital integration as well as the expansive collection of resources and information make this a resource to be shared often and utilized in a variety of content areas throughout the school year.