Poland Joins Google Cultural Institute

From the Tragic Love at Auschwitz virtual exhibition prepared by the Museum of Auschwitz

Three institutions of Polish culture join the ranks of 42 virtual exhibitions started up by the extensive Internet platform meant to promote the cultural capital across of nations across the world

As a flagship endeavour of the Google Art Project, which presents high-quality digital images of works of art from the most famous museums in the world - including Poland's Art Museum and the Museum in Wilanów - the next step is to open the project up to broader cultural initiatives, exploring science, history, archaeology and anthropology. The institute was launched with such valuable treasures as the Nelson Mandela archives and the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls, accessible to anyone in the world with Internet access.

The online exhibition is the fruit of several years of work in collaboration with 17 partners from around the world. Among them were two cultural institutions of the Polish History Museum and the Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The latter museums has prepared two presentations on the true-life experiences of prisoners in the camp. One tells of the love story between Edek Galiński and Malia Zimetbaum, who conspired to escape from the camp and the other shows documentation of Jews brought to Auschwitz from a particular region of Poland. Tragic Love and Before They Left give visitors today a sincere glimpse at the painful events of World War II from a human perspective. The exhibition prepared by the Polish History Museum presents Jan Karski. Hero of Humanity. Karski was a special envoy of Poland meant to spread the word of the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust to the United States. He got a first-hand look at the war as a courier for the resistance, making his way through the ghetto and one of the German concentration camps set up in Poland. His report, called "The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland" was one of the first accounts of the Holocaust and a desperate cry for help and rescue for the Jews. While his mission failed to bring decisive action on the part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, it was the first signal to the world of the cruelties the Nazis were capable of. Karski was recently awarded a Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Barack Obama for his efforts, although the unfortunate wording of "Polish death camps" did cause a certain measure of controversy regarding the historical fact that these camps were indeed Nazi death camps set up on Polish soil. 

At a press conference in Warsaw, Mark Yoshitaka of the Paris branch of Google Cultural Institute that the project will continue to grow in cooperation with a larger number of institutions in the world. According to the Gazeta Wyborcza daily, there are plans to create exhibitions dedicated to the history of the Solidarity Movement. Google says it is open to cooperating with institutions keen to digitise their existing collections. The cooperation between Google's expertise in technology and the knowledgeable input of experts and curators provide a reliable source of information on the Internet - a platform which is becoming increasingly crowded and often undependable or misleading. As Yoshitaka explained at the conference, 

The mission of the Google Cultural Institute is to preserve and promote culture online. What that really means for us is that is bringing google technologies together with cultural institutions. We wanting to bring all of the cutting edge technology that we have, we want to bring that to the cultural sector. When we bring it to the cultural sector, we really want to work and partner with this institutions, so that we can learn about the preservation of culture in terms of the custodian of culture and to really understand how to build these systems and tools so that we can enable this storytelling and these artifacts to be brought to the world.

Yoshitaka also pointed out how the focus is access and creating "magic moments" for users, meaning allowing someone to see a particular artifact for the first time even though it's thousands of miles away. The platform gives users the opportunity to experience history in entirely new ways, to understand and to interact with it. Many of the objects and images presented would otherwise not be accessible on the Internet.

Explore the Google Cultural Institute at www.google.com/culturalinstitute

Editors: Mikołaj Gliński and Agnieszka Le Nart

Source: press information

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