How Street View is Chronicling Heritage, Arts and Culture

In the third in this series of “Things About Street View You Likely Don’t Know”, we get into a little known way Street View project dealing with Arts and Culture. While at the Google Street View summit this past year, another big topic of interest was how StreetView combined with Google Earth’s Voyager stories through the Arts & Culture team is chronicling some of the world’s most historic and noteworthy art and heritage sites. Google is going out and imaging these singular historic sites, art and artifacts with incredibly hi-res photography as well as capturing with Street View locations that have a significant place in history.

In regards to the historic locations around the world, StreetView, Google Arts & Culture and Google Earth’s teams are working to capture what they can as quickly as possible and luckily for the rest of us, in some cases, this has happened in the nick of time.

Not only does this give people from around the world the ability to appreciate and experience these treasures from anywhere, but this project could literally save the past for the future, if by at least preserving an exact representation of the original. They have locations captured in moments of time just years or on occasion even months before war, fire or unforeseen natural disasters struck and destroyed the original areas and artifacts.

Take the Brazilian National Museum which was destroyed by fire in 2018. Google Arts & Culture worked with the museum in 2016 utilizing the “Museum View” version of Street View to create a virtual tour that, although is not remotely a consolation for the 90% artifact loss that occurred from the fire, at least is a window into what is now lost.

Another great example of this is the Iraqi historic sites that have devastated by time and the rages of war. Google Arts & Culture had undergone a significant project that involves mapping, 3D modeling and hi-res imaging to chronicle the indelible historical culture that is being lost.

They are working with one-of-a-kind artworks imaged so perfectly (think gigapixels) that it is possible to zoom in and see the every¬†individual brushstroke of the paintings. The smallest of elements that even the artist’s family had never noticed before have been preserved, as in the case of the xxxx painting by xxxx, whose son didn’t even realize he was depicted with his father until shown the zoomed-in version of the painting once it was captured.¬†

There are everyday people capturing historic sites, such as the architecture and art inside ancient temples, and other places of worship around the globe, with just a personal insta360. Places of unsurpassed intrinsic value, which will now be memorialized at that very moment for historians and others to look back on, while the ravages of time continue to alter the actual locations.

There are so many ways this could be utilized to protect these creations for future admiration and study. You could perfectly 3D print the sculptures into almost perfect replicas of the originals for posterity or send out for traveling exhibits. You could capture historic site changes year over year to study the alterations from weather, entropy, human interaction and more. You could preserve cultural  on the brink.

How incredible it will be to look back through time and see the way these historic places and artifacts actually were before time too it’s toll.