Google Cultural Institute

Google Cultural Institute

Google Cultural Institute

What if you could visit the Taj Mahal or Santiago de Compostela without ever having to get on a plane? What if you could tour art galleries around the World from the comfort of your home? These are the strides that the Google Cultural Institute is attempting to make. Google is no longer just an ordinary search engine. It is becoming a very diverse educational tool as well as a digital archive for artworks and galleries from across the globe. Some of the Institute’s online projects include: Historic Moments, World Wonders, Google Art Project, Open Gallery, and Street Art.

Google: Historic Moments

Google Cultural Institute projects: Historic Moments

The Historic Moments project is a compilation of online exhibitions focusing on important moments in history. These exhibitions tell a visual story through the use of images and video. Some of the exhibitions featured include stories surrounding the Holocaust, the Spanish Civil War, the Fall of the Berlin Wall among many others. The images come from museum collections around the world which allows for a diverse range of historical events.

Google: World Wonders

Google Cultural Institute Project: World Wonders

The World Wonders initiative is particularly interesting because it reflects the globalization of our modern society. Cities and countries around the world are more connected than ever. World Wonders allows for the public to access sites that they otherwise might not be able to. Some of the destinations include: Giza Necropolis, Angkor Wat Temple, Versailles, Stonehenge, Grand Canyon, Antarctica. This may be especially useful for teachers because the street view option allows you to interact with these spaces in ways that ordinary photographs do not. You can walk through the archaeological site of Pompei from the comfort of your desk. Some sites only allow for exterior views, while others will allow you to tour inside buildings. Of course, the technology is still in development so there are glitches and this digital view will never quite compare to visiting in person. However, the concept behind these online projects really allows for greater accessibility to these locations and challenges the ways in which we perceive space and distance.

Google Art Project

Google Art Project

The Google Art Project allows access to collections, artists, works of art, and participating galleries that can be searched using the tool bar at the top left corner of the page. This is an excellent resource for viewing a wide range of different mediums and artworks. The artist category and search option is particularly useful if you happen to be looking for works done by a specific artist. However, the project is in its early stages and still has some issues of representation. Only select galleries are participating and from those galleries only selected works are featured.

Google Open Gallery

Google Cultural Institute: Open Gallery online

Google Open Gallery allows for cultural institutions to upload images, video, audio, and exhibitions to the web. Institutions must fill out a request form to be invited to participate in open gallery. This project functions as a new kind of online exhibition platform for museums, galleries, and archives. This is an excellent complement and alternative to the Google Art Project because it allows the institution to maintain control over all curatorial aspects.

Google: Street Art

Google Cultural Institute: Street Art Project

The Street Art Project features artworks by street artists from all around the world. You can search based on collections, artists, works of art, and galleries similar to the Google Art Project set-up. This project is extremely useful because street art is typically ephemeral, difficult to find, and spread out in cities. Here, some of the greatest street art by many of the most well-known street artists has been collected and preserved to be accessible online.

There have been concerns over whether digital access to museums, art, and historical sites will make it less likely for people to visit these places. However, as Walter Benjamin taught us, the liminal experience of viewing something in person will always be greater than even the most accurate mechanical reproduction. In many ways, the Google Cultural Institute may increase awareness of these places and encourage them to travel abroad to see some of these spectacular sites. The extensive amount of images and information makes it an invaluable resource for both students and teachers, as well as the general public.

The Art of the Hashtag


The Visual Arts Department at Western University is asking students to participate in their Hashtag contest. Students can enter their ideas for an official Western Visual Arts Hashtag online and be entered into a draw to win a $25 gift card to Bijan’s Art Supplies. The winner of the contest will receive a $50 gift card to Bijan’s as well so there is plenty of incentive to enter.

The hashtag was introduced to Twitter in 2007 and has spread to almost every other form of social media. The hashtag in many ways has become a new form of cataloguing related subjects. The amount of information that is on the internet is overwhelming but hashtags now sort that information by keywords(hashtags) in much the same way that libraries can be searched by keywords. The introduction of an official Western Visual Arts Hashtag will help create an online digital collection of what staff and students are working on in the department. The deadline to apply is March 20th 2015. Visit the Western Visual Arts website to share your idea and be entered into the contest!


BrowZine is an app that can be downloaded to any tablet, iPad, or even smart phone. BrowZine revolutionizes the way students and scholars can now search for scholarly journal articles. BrowZine allows you to save your favourite journals to your library page as well as specific journal articles. All of the journals are specially formatted for reading on these devices which makes them much easier to read on your tablet or iPad than you may have previously found on your laptop or computer. This application is free to all Western students and teachers through their Western libraries account. Installation of BrowZine is very easy. You simply download the app to your device, select Western University (London, Ontario), and type in your UWO username and password. Instructions for downloading can also be found on Western Libraries webpage.

Browzine subjects search option

Screenshot for how to search scholarly journal articles by subject area

The application itself is also much easier to navigate than scholarly search websites like Jstor or Western’s summon. The main page will prompt you to search by subject field which will bring you to a list of journal articles that are broken down even further into sub categories. For example, The History of Art and Architecture subject field is broken down into categories based on art periods and movements i.e. Ancient, Medieval, and Contemporary. Tabs along the bottom of the page allow you to switch between My Bookshelf, BrowZine Library, Saved Articles, Institution Info, and Settings. My Bookshelf is where your favourite books will be stored. The BrowZine library is where you search for journals and articles.

Browzine favourite Journals

Screenshot of the Browzine bookshelf where users can save their favourite Journals

The Saved Articles is where you can save a specific article which is quite useful for containing all of your resources for a paper in one easily accessible place. The Institution info page actually links BrowZine to your home school, in this case Western University Library. This makes it easier to look for journal articles through BrowZine while also being connected to Western’s library to search for books or other sources that may relate to your topic. I have used Western University as an example but the application is available to many Universities and is a great resource for both students and teachers.

Browzine Library Info page

Screenshot of the institution information linking Browzine to Western Libraries



Duke University Digital Collections: Ad Access

Ad Access television advertisement

Ad*Access On-Line Project. #TV0650. John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History. Duke University David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

The Ad Access digital collection holds more than 7,000 advertisements printed between 1911 and 1955 in North America. The ads are available to the public online through Duke University’s Library. Images originate from Radio, Television, Transportation, Beauty and Hygiene, and World War II campaigns. This project was started with the aim of making advertisements more accessible for study and research.

Ad Access travel advertisement

Ad*Access On-Line Project. #T2721 . John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History. Duke University David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

These materials reflect certain stereotypes, values and language of particular eras in history. This makes them not just useful to art and art history students but also very relevant to the study of politics, society, business/marketing, and gender issues. This is also a great resource for teachers looking for images to use in class to help contextualize a particular period in the twentieth century. The advertisements are available for the general public to view, print, and reproduce as long as proper credits are given to Ad Access. This means both students and teachers can project these images in the classroom.

Ad Access Beauty advertisement

Ad*Access On-Line Project. #BH1518 . John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History. Duke University David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

The images come from the Competitive Advertisements Collection within the J. Walter Thompson Company Archives which was an ad agency that would have had employees who clipped advertisements from magazines and newspapers and filed them according to type within the archives. The home page of the Ad Access website allows visitors to search the collection by company, product, date, publication, subject, media, headline, or audience. Advertisements featured in the collection can be seen above. You can browse the images at  .

Ad Access homepage screenshot

“Ad*Access.” Duke Digital Collections. Accessed January 30, 2015.

Annual Juried Exhibition (AJE 13)

Last night, The Art Lab Gallery at Western University had a very successful opening reception for the Annual Juried Exhibition. With over a hundred guests in attendance, the Artlab Gallery was buzzing with discussions over the wide range of art in the show. Last week, over 120 submissions went up on the walls in the John Labatt Visual Arts Building, making it the most competitive year for submissions to date and a very difficult selection process for the AJE board. Sixty pieces total were chosen for the exhibition from all years of the Visual Arts program and from a range of mediums.

Annual Juried Exhibition drawings, paintings, photography

Annual Juried Exhibition artworks

The People’s Choice award created an exciting and engaging atmosphere as all of the guests were encouraged to vote for their favourite artist. This year there were a total of nine awards that included gifts from the faculty of Arts and Humanities, and Bijan’s Art Supply store. The People’s Choice award was presented by VASA president Lucas Cabral to fourth year student Taylor Doyle, who also picked up a second award; both were for her creative performance and video piece. A new award was added this year from the Visual Arts faculty. Undergraduate Chair, Cody Barteet spoke highly of its first recipient Ronnie Clarke, a second year BFA student. Overall the show was well rounded with a large range of styles and mediums put together by Art Lab Director Susan Edelstein and many other Visual Arts faculty. AJE 13 will be on display until February 13th 2015.

Gallery Director Susan Edelstein giving opening remarks at the AJE opening reception

Gallery Director Susan Edelstein giving opening remarks at the AJE opening reception


CCCA Canadian Art Database

Director of the Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art, Bill Kirby established the CCCA Canadian Art Database in 1997. This initiative is a federally incorporated, not-for-profit charitable arts organization that aims to broaden awareness of Canadian artists, art writers, designers, and curators. The website also has background information on important Canadian art institutions, projects and organizations as well as links to their websites.

The database is currently housed by Concordia University and is free for the public to access through their website. This is a great resource for students looking to find information on a wide range of Canadian artists quickly. The site index on the main page allows visitors to browse all content and sections of the web page. The header across the top of the web page has drop down menus (for artists, designers, writers, curators, etc.) that make navigating the site quite easy.

CCCA Canadian Art Database mainpage screenshot

“CCCA.” CCCA. Screen capture taken January 20, 2015.

The section on designers was added in 2002-2003 in collaboration with Sheridan College and Ontario College of Art and Design to provide an online history of Canadian communications design. The alphabetical search option for designers can be found on the main page or the drop down menu at the top of the web page which will lead visitors to images by individual designers. The video portraits section offers a video series currently on eight Canadian graphic designers and fifteen Canadian artists.

Screenshot of Video Portrait page

“Video Portraits.” Video Portraits. Screen capture taken January 20, 2015.

Screenshot of Artist video portrait page

“Video Portraits.” Video Portraits. Screen capture taken January 20, 2015.

The information on artists is the most useful section on the website which provides a brief biography of most artists and photographs of their work. An alphabetical list and search option for writers is also available with links to full texts of their writing. There is an option to do a keyword search for specific article topics making it helpful for students trying to locate sources for art history papers on a specific topic or Canadian artist. The curators segment also offers more full text articles written by curators from across Canada.

The CCCA Canadian Art Database is an ongoing project made possible by contributions from Art history graduate students, and artists and art institutions across Canada. This online resource has grown significantly over the past eighteen years to hold over 3,000 texts, over 62,000 images, along with several other arts projects, groups, and organizations. The Database also includes images from past exhibitions held at Western University’s Art Lab Gallery and McIntosh Gallery, along with many of local London artist Ron Benner’s works that are housed by the McIntosh Gallery Collection.

Dictionary of Art Historians

The Dictionary of Art Historians (DAH) is a privately funded and free to access bibliographical dictionary of historians of western art. It began in 1986 as a  project (on notecards!) to index the historians cited in four major art history works. It was inputted electronically in 1996 and was migrated online in 2002. In early 2010, it became associated with the Duke University Department of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies.

Its mission is to compile documented facts about an art historian’s life to better understand specific texts. Compiling art historians mentioned in major art historiographies, can serve as a starting point for research. Inclusion in the dictionary is due to inclusion in the historiographies, and not the choice of the editors of the DAH. A bibliography is provided so users can look for source works.

The mission and explanation pages give a history of the project. The explanation content is also provided in German, French, Dutch, and Italian.

It uses a Creative Commons license that stipulates the DAH must be cited, and there is a convenient page which shows how to cite the source using a variety of citation methods.

The navigation bar at the top provides a link to the complete list of art historians as well as a list of recent entries and their status. There is also a search bar, provided through Google Search, so users can search a specific historian.

Sorensen, Lee. "Heinrich, Schwarz." Dictionary of Art Historians (6 June 2013).

Sorensen, Lee. “Heinrich, Schwarz.” Dictionary of Art Historians (6 June 2013).

Though some entries will be more complete than others, a typical entry contains as much bibliographic information as possible (including, for example, birth date and place, home country, and death date and place). A biography is next, and is cross referenced to other art historians in the dictionary. Lastly, a bibliography of works is included.

Though very light on graphics, this is an excellent source to begin research into the scholars who have written about western art history. Learning about the historians behind the histories can be a daunting task, and this resource provides a unique and easy to navigate starting point.