Google is boosting its cultural credentials today with the news that it has partnered with around 60 natural history institutions to bring long-extinct worlds to life online through interactive exhibitions.
For the uninitiated, the Google Cultural Institute is the Google arm responsible for working with cultural bodies to help bring offline exhibits to the internet — in the past, this has included documenting the history of cinema, Nelson Mandela’s time in prison, the fall of the Iron Curtain, and more. Now the company has teamed up with the Natural History Museum (London), the American Museum of Natural History (New York), the Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin), and dozens more to showcase interactive stories, hundreds of thousands of photos and videos, and more than 30 virtual tours.
It’s worth noting here that some of the exhibits are best viewed on mobile through the Arts & Culture app on Android and iOS — using a 360-degree viewer such as Google Cardboard. These include long-gone giants of the reptilian world, such as the Rhomaleosaurus and the Giraffatitan, which have been fleshed out for virtual exploration.
“We wanted to give you a glimpse of how these colossal creatures actually looked,” explained Google Cultural Institute director Amit Sood, in a blog post. “So we worked with ecologists, paleontologists, and biologists to put virtual skin and flesh on the preserved skeletons. From the size of the eye to the position of the snout and the bend of the neck, the texture and creases of the skin were all painstakingly recreated, and verified by a team of scientists.”
But for those seeking to explore new worlds from their laptop, there is plenty of non-VR stuff in there, going all the way back to the beginning of time and through to the sloth jaw that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution. It is pretty cool stuff.