Google opens shop window for Kenyan artefacts

Kenyan artists now have a platform to showcase their products after online giant Google launched a cultural institute dedicated to showcasing local talent.

The digital Kenyan platform will make local art and cultural arts — music, plays, poems and books as well as hand made items — available to the world market.

The GoDown Arts Centre and Kenya Red Cross have already joined the platform. Kenya is the third African country after South Africa and Senegal to set up a similar platform.

Google head of communications and public affairs Ms Dorothy Ooko, said the Google Cultural Institute would enable the culturally curious to discover, explore and share cultural treasures of the world at the touch of a button.

“For hundreds of years, cultural institutions have collected and safeguarded our history and heritage. With its Cultural Institute, Google helps them to bring cultural heritage online with powerful technologies to digitise and showcase artworks in new ways and reach a wider audience,” said Ms Ooko.

She said the Cultural Institute would encourage innovation and enable museums, curators and artists globally to reach new audiences.

The Cultural Institute platform offers content in three sections — Art, History and World Wonders projects.

Ms Ooko said the Art project features artworks ranging from oil on canvas to sculpture and furniture from more than 700 partners.

“Google helps museums around the globe, large and small, classic and modern, to digitise their artworks using a combination of Google technologies to provide users with high-resolution images,” she says.

In the History project, users will explore more than 700 exhibitions across the world.

Many cultural institutions have extensive archives of information, much of which is not accessible to the public.

“An example of this is Nelson Mandela’s handwritten prison letters or the birth of the Eiffel Tower,” said Ms Ooko.

The World Wonders Project makes world heritage sites available to users using Street View technology. The project brings to life the wonders of the modern and ancient world, with background information provided through a partnership with UNESCO and World Monuments Fund.

“The Google Cultural Institute and its partners are putting the world’s cultural treasures at the fingertips of Internet users and are building tools that allow the cultural sector to share more of its diverse heritage online,” said Ms Ooko.

“All the material is owned by our partners, they are in charge of clearing copyright. Google is hosting it on their behalf. Each partner and curator is credited at the end of the exhibition. Equally, the source of every single of the millions of items that people can search for is referenced on the item itself,” she said.

Judy Ogana, the GoDown Arts Centre programme manager, said: “Artistes in Kenya can now work with Go-Down or other galleries online. Our interest is how