[App Friday] From Japanese manga to the world’s Rothkos and Rodins, Google Arts & Culture brings you closer to art

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If sitting down for half a day in front of a Bernini to appreciate the liveliness of marble, marveling at the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel or getting lost in Renoir’s summer is your definition of the ideal vacation, you probably have more. of a reason to anathematize COVID-19: to restrict travel around the world.

Although some parts of the world are opening up to tourists – and some already have – there are still too many restrictions to manage, including mandatory isolations, frequent COVID-19 testing, mandatory proof of vaccinations, etc. ., all of which have still managed to keep tourism moderate to a large extent.

But thanks to technology, you no longer need to be in the United States to enjoy Cézanne’s bottle of peppermint, or in Jerusalem to admire The Tree by the Bend (although that might have been ideal !).

Google Arts and Culture is a great way to explore art from around the world, from the safe confines of your hopefully sanitized home.

Rated 4.3 out of 5 on the Google Play Store, with over 10 million downloadsthe Google Arts & Culture app lets you interact with art like you would in real life via augmented reality, adding lots of interesting information that makes the experience more enjoyable than “some physical guided tours”, according to a review on the app’s Google Play Store listing page.

The app is available on Android and iOS, as well as desktop, although the AR experience is not accessible on the web browser.

Up close and personal

Google Arts & Culture lets you do a lot on one platform, including fun games and activities. You can either just click through to the homepage or, if you’re a meticulous organizer like me and prefer symmetry, the app’s offerings can be broken down as follows:

Paintings

The app helps you discover new paintings, including rarer pieces by famous artists, eras of painting and notable pieces from that era, new artists, and more. Almost every day, the app selects a relevant new topic regarding paintings, such as the Renaissance period of art, or post-modern art, and provides a wealth of information on that topic – so you can learn about art movements, cultural eras, famous painters who adopted certain styles, and also how all of these things affected the microcosms around it.

Thanks to augmented reality, you can project thousands of works of art onto the walls of your home and, thanks to Google’s excellent collection of high-resolution images, you can even approach the painting to see details. tiny such as brush strokes. (I admittedly stroked my wall once because the AR looked so realistic, I thought I could actually touch the paint – the image quality is sublime to the point of looking 3D) .

You can discover paintings according to your favorite color and even astrological signs.

Galleries

It’s just a great way to travel for free to some of the most important art galleries in the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, which contains many works of Van Gogh, and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, famous for its Renaissance paintings, among several other important and frequently visited ones.

Each page of the gallery tells you about the most famous pieces you might come across in the museum, as well as extremely interesting stories behind some of the paintings – almost as if you were walking with a real-life art historian (who , by the way, from personal experience, can cost almost €250 per hour for a visit that lasts almost three hours).

Where Google Arts & Culture really blows your mind, reviving a childlike wonder, is when it lets you enter a gallery from home, like a Google Street View but for art galleries!

Some of them are real-world galleries, while others are curated virtual reality experiences, such as an exhibition featuring all of Kandinsky’s works, or the “Brushes with the World” gallery where you can take a tour virtual walk of an art gallery that contains paintings representing different parts of the world, as well as audio commentary and background music that plays as you approach an artwork.

Places and architecture

The application allows you to virtually visit various must-see sites of the world such as the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the most famous temple in Kyoto, the Kiyomizu-dera and the Colosseum in Rome, among others, without crowds. pushes and pulls you in different directions.

You can also do some really cool things like step into Nina Simone’s childhood home in Washington DC, or walk the stage at the Opera Garnier in Paris, putting yourself in the shoes of an artist watching 1979. seats.

And when planet Earth’s offerings don’t hold your attention, you can step into the International Space Station or fight your way through CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.

Interactive

This is what you can do beyond the three aforementioned categories, and it includes several things:

  • Pottery: you can learn about all kinds of pottery-related topics, such as Greek pottery, Italian ceramics, and more. There’s also a really cool game you can play to create your own virtual pots based on famous designs.
  • Music: Discover new artists and learn about the history of music and some of its most notable movements, such as jazz and classical. A game that lets you compose melodies with the help of maestro composers such as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven using machine learning will delight and boost your ego (who doesn’t dream of playing with the greatest pianists and composers in the world). everyday world?).
  • Games and quizzes on painting, music, architecture, etc.
  • Discover fashion, virtually visit botanical gardens, discover the native flora and fauna of a particular region, discover chairs, puppets and rings from different eras and countries.

The verdict

This app is a must download for art lovers and anyone who wants to know a bit more about our world. There’s so much information that every time you use the app, you walk away feeling like you’ve earned a doctorate in a particular painting, artist, architecture, or gallery.

Where Google Arts & Culture shines is the degree of immersion it provides – it doesn’t feel like information overload at all because you’re constantly moving around an art gallery, for example, or you are watching a video on a small part of a multi-faceted sculpture.

The discovery feature is an eye opener, really, and it introduces you to some of the most insane things about culture.

I recently came across an entire unit on Manga, which, shamefully, having recently binge-watched Naruto, I didn’t know much about. The unit not only talks about the history of manga, but also allows you to create your own manga characters, discover the museums where the art form originated, and even learn how to create “music” in a manga (For the uninitiated, manga is a popular form of Japanese comics. It’s largely hand-drawn.)

There’s a beautifully illustrated story of how Osamu Tezuka, a legendary manga artist, collaborated with artificial intelligence to create a comic, and, as someone who loves technology, I was deeply impressed by it.

The AR and VR features are hugely engaging, and it’s hard not to spend hours being a virtual art reviewer.

“I love this app! The imagery is stunning. For example, the 3D view of the artifacts is so detailed that you can literally see the texture as if you were physically in the museum walking through these works of art,” explains an app reviewer, a sentiment vehemently shared by millions in the review section.

While nothing can quite replace the experience of physically visiting a Matisse, Munch, or Magritte in person, the Google Arts & Culture app is inches away. Be warned though – for those really into it, it’s an addictive app.

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