Paris, 31 May 2012, Art Media Agency (AMA).
Last April, Google launched the second version of its Art Project platform. More than 150 museums from 40 countries have worked with Google to make more 30,000 artworks available in high-definition.
AMA met Anne-Gabrielle Dauba-Pantanacce, Head of Communications at Google France and spokesperson for the Google Art Project, to find out more about this platform and Google’s art projects.
Art Media Agency: Could you tell us how the Google Art Project started?
Anne-Gabrielle Dauba-Pantanacce: It all started with an employee from the Spanish marketing team, Clara Rivera. During the famous 20 % of time that each Google employee may focus on pursuing more personal projects, she convinced the Prado to let Google help them publicise masterpieces from the museum on the Internet. Passionate about the museum, she was frustrated that the audience for its pieces was necessarily limited. After great success internally, it was decided that the project should be expanded by including more works and more institutions. The Art Project is now a truly universal platform, centralising digitisations from all participating institutions. The Prado was the first step.
AMA: Were there other major institutions that helped you start up the Google Art Project?
AGDP: The Palace of Versailles was one of the first 17 institutions from the v1 and with whom we had previously worked, capturing the gardens for Street View. All the Palace staff have been very open and enthusiastic. They are very proud of the work done and have announced that the Art Project has increased their traffic by 25 to 50 %. We became their third largest source of visitors.
AMA: Can you give us figures?
AGDP: We have received over 20 million individual visitors, creating 200,000 personal galleries on the v1 alone. We now have 151 partner institutions from 40 countries. Over 30,000 artworks are accessible in high resolution, including 46 digitised by Google itself at an ultra-high resolution (7 billion pixels per artwork). A team of four work full time at Google on the development of the technical platform, and many more, although part-time, on cementing partnerships with galleries.
AMA: What are the financial aspects of these partnerships?
AGDP: There is strictly no financial component to these partnerships, neither for Google nor for the institutions. Google is simply a technical partner and deals only with the management of the platform (not including the 46 works mentioned previously); all digitisation and data input is undertaken by the institutions themselves.
AMA: Can we expect new museums to join the Google Art Project in a near future?
AGDP: Of course. We have only just released the second version of the platform a few months back, yet we are already in discussions with new institutions. It is, however, difficult to be more specific at the moment, given the truly international aspects of the matter, and therefore the number of people involved internally, as well as the time required to establish such partnerships.
AMA: Was there any reticence from the museums?
AGDP: As with any new project, there is always a period of adaptation and an inevitable fear of the unknown. But this fear quickly evaporated when presented with the amazing results. That is how we jumped from 17 to 151 museums between the first and second version of the site.
AMA: In your opinion, does experiencing the Google Art Project compliment or compete with museum attendance?
AGDP: We strongly feel that the Art Project truly complements a visit to a museum and cannot be a substitute for it in any manner. Some people use the platform to prepare for their visits so as to make the most of their time in the museums. For others, the Art Project is unfortunately the only possible access to some works (due to cost, location, time, conservation, etc.).Some pieces are simply not visible in the collections. Finally, we have discovered with great pride that the Art Project is also widely used in education.
AMA: Is there, at Google, any upcoming project more specifically tailored for the art market?
AGDP: At our level, the Cultural Institute, we only work on cultural outreach projects (free of any commercial or financial aspects). We are here to support projects promoting cultural content through the use of new technologies. We are representing the cultural CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) policy of the “Google” brand. To my knowledge, there are currently no specific projects regarding the art market at Google.
Interview with Anne-Gabrielle Dauba-Pantanacce, Head of Communications, Google France.