Have you heard about the crazy Google Arts and Culture App? It’s a free smartphone app (available on Google and Android) that takes a photo of your face (or anyone’s face) and matches it to a famous work of art.
What Else is Google Arts and Culture?
But, that’s not all the art app does. Check this out from the app description:
“Keep exploring with Google Arts & Culture. Meet the people, visit the places and learn about the events that shaped our world. Discover collections curated by experts from the most famous museums. Be moved by stories depicted in thousands of photos, videos, manuscripts and artworks on every type of screen and in virtual reality. Find your favorite artworks, create your own collections and share them with friends.
Google Arts & Culture has collaborated with over 1,200 international museums, galleries and institutions from 70 countries to make their exhibits available for everyone online.”
(Honestly, I could homeschool from this app for YEARS and still not get bored!)
How to Use Google Arts and Culture for Lessons and Activities
The Google Arts and Culture App isn’t just a fun facial matching app. You can actually explore, see, and learn about art from all over the world, including zooming in on works of art and taking virtual tours of museums and landmarks. You are also served different news and art and culture stories.
Here are some ways you can incorporate the Google Arts and Culture App into your learning:
1. Snap your picture, learn about the art.
HOW TO: From the home page, scroll down until you see “Is your portrait in a museum?”
Once you add your picture to the app (the app only stores your image long enough for it to find a match), it presents you with multiple semi-matches. (I’ve seen some pretty good matches on Twitter, but mine kept serving bloated men, so that was . . . awesome.)
You can tap on the match and it opens the artwork and tells you the name, artist, and the collection where it’s located. If you tap on “View artwork” it gives you more details about the art (for example, medium) and then gives you an external link to learn more about the art.
This is a great way to encourage kids to learn about the art of their doppelganger! Maybe your kids can even try to recreate the piece of art that looks like them?
2. “Zoom Views – Experience every detail of the world’s greatest treasures.”
With the “pinch and zoom” feature, you get to look at art closer and more detailed than you would ever experience it otherwise. (And, it doesn’t look grainy or unfocused when you get close.)
HOW TO: From the home page, scroll down to ZOOM IN and pick the artwork you want to explore in more detail.
3. “Virtual Reality – Immerse yourself in arts and culture.”
The day that we first accessed the app, there was a virtual reality of the Great Barrier Reef. If you hold your phone up and move it around, it actually looks like you are at the Reef and exploring. It’s really amazing! (If you have virtual reality glasses for your phone, bonus points!)
HOW TO: From the home page, scroll down to “Street View” and select a museum, landmark, or area to explore.
4. “Browse by time and color – Explore artworks by filtering them by color or time period.”
If you’re looking for a specific time period in art, you can search by that. Or, maybe you are studying a specific color pallet? You can also search artworks by color!
HOW TO FOR COLOR: From HOME, scroll down until you see “Color Explorer.”
5. “Virtual tours – Step inside the most famous museums in the world and visit iconic landmarks.”
Have you wanted to see a specific museum around the world, but know that the chances are slim that you’ll get to visit there soon? See if it’s offered as a virtual tour!
HOW TO: From the Home Page, scroll down to “Collections.” Choose a collection and then scroll down to “Explore.” If there’s a virtual tour for that museum, it will be listed there. (Sometimes there are several virtual tours for a museum available.) You can also use the menu and select “Collections” and it will take you to a list. You can also plan a visit to the museum from there! It tells you hours, special exhibits, gives you maps, and more.
6. “Personal collection – Save your favorite artworks and share your collections with friends.”
If you find something that you want to study more (or you want your child to learn more about), you can save your favorites and then share it with your kids (or friends).
HOW TO SAVE: Favorite something to save it by tapping on the HEART. (You have to sign into your Google account first. It’s free if you don’t have one.) You can also create a collection (maybe you’re studying contemporary artists) by going to the main menu (the three lines on the upper left hand side) and tapping favorites. Then, tap on the + sign for “create a new collection.” Select your saved items to add.
HOW TO SHARE: Go to your collection or saved items from the FAVORITES on the main menu. Tap on the saved item or collection and then tap on the SHARE icon (the one with the up arrow). You can then text it, email it, or share it to social media (to name a few).
7. “Nearby – Find museums and cultural events around you.”
Want to take a field trip or explore things close to you? Check out what’s going on around you.
HOW TO: From the main menu, tap on NEARBY. A list of nearby exhibits and museums will populate based on your location. (You may have to grant location access.)
8. “Exhibits – Take guided tours curated by experts.”
I found these on the home page by scrolling down to “Spotlight On” and then tap “Start Exploring.” It was a spotlight on National Parks with forest rangers taking you on tours.
HOW TO: If you get stuck on these tours and unable to get back to the main app (like me), tap on the main menu (the three lines in the upper left hand corner) and then tap on the Google Arts & Culture logo.
9. “Daily digest – Learn something new every time you open the app.”
Each day, you will find amazingly interesting stories, art, and offerings. When I wrote this post, the offerings ranged from a virtual tour of Stone Henge, to viewing 10 million butterflies and moths from the Natural History museum, to “stories behind what we wear,” to “Explaining Contemporary Art with Emojis.”
Your learning will stay super fresh with this app, for sure!
10. “Art Recognizer – Learn more about artworks by pointing your device camera at them, even when offline (at select museums).”
I haven’t tried this yet, but the next time we’re at a participating museum I will. I’ll report back then.
11. “Notifications – subscribe to receive updates on the top arts & culture stories.”
If you subscribe, you will get art updates, which can be a prompt to continuously learn about art and cultures!
Have you tried the app? Have you incorporated it into your learning? Let us know how you’re using it in the comments!
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