Pittsburgh Museum Partners with Google to Expand Online Presence

The Frick Pittsburgh will join Google's Cultural Institute, allowing it to attract a new audience and display some of its most prized items, including those currently in storage.

by Gary Rotstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / March 8, 2016

(TNS) -- The Frick Pittsburgh draws some 127,000 visitors a year to Point Breeze to view its art museum, historic home and antique cars, but a vastly larger potential audience will be exposed to its collection starting Thursday.

The Frick will be the latest of more than 1,000 cultural institutions — and the first Pittsburgh museum — to join the Google Cultural Institute, an online collection of art and historic treasures from around the world. The tech company launched the institute five years ago providing online exhibitions and virtual tours to increase public access to valuable art, photographs, cultural sites and more.

Google invites participation by nonprofit museums interested in showcasing their work, and The Frick accepted in early 2015. Its curators have been working with Google’s technology staff for the past year on organizing and digitizing 150 pieces in its collection that later this week will become viewable in high levels of detail at www.google.com/culturalinstitute/project/art-project.

Connoisseurs of art and history anywhere in the world will be able to take a close look at Peter Paul Rubens’ early 17th century “Portrait of Charlotte-Marguerite de Montmorency, Princess of Conde” or the rare Kuzmichev and Tiffany silver tea set that the Frick family used at its Clayton home. Those are among the objects from The Frick’s permanent collection that made the digital cut of artwork, furnishings and vehicles.

“We hope the digital experience will enhance viewers’ appreciation of the actual objects and make it even more compelling for folks to make a visit,” said Greg Langel, Frick media and marketing manager. “Our goal is to help prepare visitors for what they can expect, and in doing so to improve and enhance their experience when visiting.”

He said a number of pieces normally kept in storage will be among those featured, such as pastel paintings by Jean-Francois Millet that would be susceptible to light damage if put on display display.

Google spokesman Patrick Lenihan said other institutions participating have seen increases in foot traffic after gaining more exposure via Google Cultural Institute views. He said no money changes hands between Google and museums.

“It’s not to make money, it’s just to help institutions share their content with the world,” he said. “We want to work with every cultural institution in the world we possibly can. ... We’re looking forward to working with more cultural institutions in Pittsburgh.”

Google technicians will be at The Frick this week doing video work that will enable a virtual tour to be added as part of the local institution’s online presence.

©2016 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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