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Immersive Village History in your Pocket: Google Arts & Culture

Sure, our phones might seem to be more curse than blessing sometimes, eating up our time and attention more than we’d like to admit. But of course they have also brought about unbelievable the-future-is-now ways of connecting us all. Google Arts & Culture virtually brings you face to face with some of the most astounding works of art, cultural institutions, and natural landscapes around the world. And Village Preservation now lives there, too! We’ve just launched our page on Google Arts & Culture, and it’s most definitely worth a look.

Our page on Google Arts & Culture

The Collections

Google Arts & Culture features collections from countless renowned international museums (a truly infinite scroll) and historic places. As we’ve highlighted time and again here on Off the Grid, we’re fortunate to have our Historic Image Archive of donated and Village Preservation-generated neighborhood masterpieces, including the unforgettable photographs by Carole Teller.  So, to kick off our partnership with Google Arts & Culture, we’ve uploaded hundreds of Carole’s photographs to share them with more Village-lovers all around the world!

Carole’s buzzing images of the Village displayed in the Google Arts & Culture grid. artsandculture.google.com

When you scroll through our page, you’ll see that there are six smaller groupings of Carole’s photos – the one I personally enjoy most is the Classic Car category, a fun spotlight on a detail that shows up in so many photos but perhaps gets overshadowed by the other elements in each scene. Her images of the Lower East Side, Colonnade Row’s interior décor, and the Theater District also have their own exhibits, highlighting the variety in Carole’s expansive collection.


These different categories can frame Carole’s work in interesting, interactive new ways, and we’ll certainly add more categories as we expand our GA&C portfolio. And below these, if the categories aren’t your thing, you can simply scroll through a dynamic collage of the photographs.

The Tours

No matter the weather or your energy levels, and whether you’re in the neighborhood or not, you can take an educational stroll through the Village with our Google Arts & Culture virtual tours. Combining Google Street View and audio, they bring you right to each point of interest while a real human narrates its history. All accessible anytime, anywhere!

From the Latinx History Tour. Enjoy a beautifully lit Tomkins Square Park as John Leguizamo tells you about the history of the Young Lords in the park. artsandculture.google.com

We launched our partnership with Google Arts & Culture with four different virtual walking tours – a Latinx History Tour of the  Village narrated by John Leguizamo, a Social Justice Tour narrated by James Bennett II, an LGBTQ+ Tour narrated by James Marcolin, and a Trailblazing Women Tour narrated by Emily Genatowski. Each one lets you dive into the rich cultural history of our neighborhoods, with fascinating audio about every tour location. On your computer or using the app, you can move around and immerse yourself in the landscape. You can even get an eye-level, close-up view of the unbelievable 1989 Keith Haring bathroom mural at the LGBT Center (also open to the public).

These Google Arts & Culture virtual tours provide endless possibilities for deeply interactive experiences right in your phone, pulling in maps, audio, historic images – all things we love! And if that’s not interactive enough, try it with…

Google Cardboard

…The magic of a little cardboard box! First released in 2014, Google Cardboard makes virtual reality all the more accessible. They’re available for purchase for as low as $6, with slightly higher prices for some more eye-catching viewers. There are even a couple of viewers made by View-Master, bringing the classic 3-D viewer into the tech era!

Some pretty snazzy Cardboard viewer options! Images via Google Cardboard and Amazon

Paired with the Google Arts & Culture app, the Cardboard viewer lets you gaze around the tour sights as if you were actually there on the sidewalk. This technology welcomes people into the history and beauty of our neighborhoods, from anywhere. (Of course, Cardboard also allows you to skydive, snorkel, walk around museums, play games, and more. But that’s for another day.)

Our Google Arts & Culture launch began with real-life experiences of the tours. The LGBT+ Tour with James Marcolin started off at The Center.

We’re so excited to partner with Google Arts & Culture and glad to share Carole’s photographs and Village history in this far-reaching, interactive platform. Try out the tours, scroll through the collections, and keep an eye out for updates!

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