More than 3,000 works of art and 80 Portuguese exhibitions can be viewed virtually through the Internet, in 360 degrees and with greater detail thanks to the ‘Portugal: Arte e Património’ project, presented today in Lisbon.
The project is a partnership of Google Arts & Culture with the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage, which allows more than 3,000 works of Portuguese cultural heritage to be made available to the world over 80 virtual exhibitions (more than 60 exhibitions and 20 ‘tours’ of virtual reality), as well as a trip through the historical landmarks described in Fernando Pessoa’s 1925 tourist guide to Google Earth.
The architecture, theatre, music, history of Inês de Castro, women who broke barriers and a trip with Luís Vaz de Camões are the themes covered by the tours in virtual reality, giving a better understanding of the different aspects that make up the patrimony of Portugal.
To this end, 22 institutions have made available their collections, allowing them to go beyond the physical space, and open doors for people from all over the world to get to know the Portuguese culture.
For the Minister of Culture, Graça Fonseca, this is an “extraordinary added value for our museums and monuments, fundamentally for our country”.
“With this presence of national museums and monuments on the Google Arts & Culture platform, with more than 3,000 digital works and more than 1,000 in high resolution, it will allow us all to see details and to know stories we probably did not know about,” he said.
The minister gave as an example the rhino that is in the Tower of Belem facing the Tagus River, and that is not easy to see as close as the platform allows to see and to know the history of why there is a rhinoceros in the Tower of Belém.
Another example pointed by the ruler as one of the possibilities of the platform is to know the history of why NASA decided to name Maria Helena Vieira da Silva to one of its craters and “what this represents in terms of international projection of one of the biggest names in Portuguese culture. ”
Among the more than 3,000 Portuguese works of art scanned in Google Arts & Culture are pieces representing the influence of the Portuguese in Japanese art, the iconic tiles, the cars and the great names of Portuguese art.
The Minister of the Presidency and Administrative Modernization, Maria Manuel Leitão Marques, present at the launch of the project, stressed the importance of the partnership with Google in the loan of its Art Camera, a camera capable of high-resolution scanning and reveal details that could go unnoticed to the naked eye.
One of the examples is ‘The Great Panorama of Lisbon’, a historical document of Lisbon that can be contemplated in virtually the smallest detail.
Amit Sood, director of the Google Cultural Institute, pointed out that the six Panels of St. Vincent are the largest digitized piece of art ever, with billions of pixels.
Graça Fonseca underlined that this project is a trip through Portuguese culture, which has the potential to “show what can not be seen or reached” and the “potential of internationalization“, allowing someone many thousands of kilometres to be interested and come to Portugal to see the cultural heritage in person.
The minister also recalled an important component of the technology that is “to preserve very important spoils, and it is important, with some serious incidents that happened recently, fortunately not in Portugal, the possibility of preserving forever our heritage.”
Graça Fonseca alluded to the fire in the National Museum of Brazil in 2018, which consumed its cultural heritage, including pieces linked to Portugal.
Graça Fonseca left two challenges to Google, in the sense that this is a “first step” of the partnership between culture and Google, which can develop more on the part of women and children.
As part of her work with women around the world, the minister’s challenge is to “develop new content and tell new stories to the world because many women, especially in culture, do not have the same projection as many men have“.
Regarding the younger generation, Graça Fonseca considered that there is the potential to develop a language that allows children to become even more so that they become consumers and lovers of art and culture.
The Minister of the Presidency stressed that this is another measure of Simplex, “an ally of culture“, as “culture is an ally of Simplex.”
The collections of Portugal: Art and Heritage are available on the g.co/portugalartandheritage site and in the Google Arts & Culture application.