Although Google is best known for its search engine, it also provides a growing platform for the public to access the world’s most impressive masterpieces and educational tools. Now, with support from Lin-Manuel Miranda, Google is showcasing treasures from the museums of Puerto Rico.
The new exhibit is part of Google Arts & Culture, a project that displays works from the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Nelson-Atkins, the Royal Museum, and more than a thousand other fine museums from around the world.
The artworks are more accessible at Arts & Culture than in books, and the interpretation provides a rich experience for people new to art, as well as for students and devoted art lovers.
The Museo de Arte de Ponce contains one of the most important collections of Pre-Raphaelite art in the world. Additionally, the museum contains 14 galleries of fine European art from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Visitors to Google’s online exhibit can explore 100 works of art from this world-class museum.
The Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico is a celebration of the diversity of the Island, featuring exhibits of paintings and sculptures focusing on important historic events in Puerto Rico, from the 18th century to the present. A major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2018 supported this museum.
The Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña) displays works from the Renaissance on with the intention of capturing and preserving images of Puerto Rican identity. The painting shown in the screen shot below ‘El Grito de Lares,”by Augusto Marin, depicts the 1886 revolt in the town of Lares. The people of the town declared themselves the Republic of Puerto Rico and put together a government that lasted for a single day. The Google online exhibit allows viewers to see the painting in extreme close-up, with historical notes.
The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico is a museum of contemporary art located in San Juan. Built in 1984, the MAC features the work of contemporary artists in Puerto Rico, Puerto Rican artists in the States, and works from Latin American and Caribbean nations. The Google exhibit explores a variety of pieces from the collection.
“It’s a flare out to the world that there’s incredible art here,” Miranda said of the virtual exhibits. “There’s no reason why Puerto Rican art should not be seen on the same stage as the Louvre, the Met and all the incredible other places where Google has come with its cameras to digitize the artwork.”
Google uses a special camera — the “art camera” — to digitize international art treasures for Arts & Culture. The camera can faithfully reproduce brush strokes and details which may be missed by the human eye. The art camera had never before been brought to Puerto Rico. A single photograph can take hours to complete, since the camera scrutinizes the paintings inch by inch to capture all the details before creating an image to be uploaded.
The current online exhibits are Phase 1 of the overall project, which intends to bring many more works of art from these museums to the web in coming months. Miranda hopes this taste of Puerto Rican culture will encourage tourism and support the Island’s economy.