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Google Arts & Culture shines a light on 5,000 years of English heritage

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The land we call England today can trace its roots back to the fifth century. That’s a lot of history, knowledge and culture to cover—enough to fill several libraries. But what about things that can’t be housed in libraries—archaeological artifacts, castles, forts and monuments like the Dover Castle from the 11th Century (the largest castle in England) or Hailes Abbey (where Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall is buried)? We’re partnering with English Heritage to create a new Google Arts & Culture exhibit that celebrates these sites and the incredible stories behind them. The collection captures the breadth of England's historical, architectural, and cultural heritage.

Through more than 30 multimedia exhibits and 10 editorial features on Google Arts & Culture, you can experience online almost 3,000 historic gems from the Prehistoric, Roman, Medieval, Tudor, Civil War and Stuart periods through the 21st century and from the perspective of the historians, experts and curators who manage the collections and heritage sites across England. You can explore by time period or, with the help of machine learning tools that recognize color patterns, you can sort through items by color (click on the paint palette icon to do this).

Here are a few examples of things you’ll find in the online exhibit:

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    For a brush with royalty,  take a 360 video tour of Queen Victoria’s life at Osborne House and the fascinating Indian-inspired Durbar Room.
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    Check out “The Battle of Hastings” by Francis William Wilkin. At nine meters across, it’s the biggest ever Google Art Camera capture.
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    Using Google Museum View, explore the ruins of Seventh Century Monastery Whitby Abbey, which was one of the inspirations for Bram Stoker’s classic, Dracula.
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    Zoom into high gigapixel resolution image of the magnificent Elysium Closet from Bolsover Castle, in never before seen detail.
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    History buff and BBC presenter Dan Snow talks about influential English sites, castles and ruins. One of those sites is Porchester, a preserved Roman fort north of the Alps.
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    Read about the York Cold War Bunker and why it still fascinates historians like Kevin Booth today.
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    When you’re done with all that, explore the English Heritage collection in different colors.

At a launch event for the collection in Westminster Parliament in London, John Glen, U.K. Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, emphasized the importance of cultural heritage and how technology can be used as a means of experiencing culture: “Our #CultureIsDigital project aims to harness the creative potential of technology to increase awareness and engagement in our world-class cultural organizations. The collaboration between Google and English Heritage is a perfect example of how the heritage and tech sectors can work together to present our history and culture in new and exciting ways. It showcases the richness and variety of our cultural heritage to the world and demonstrates how we can enhance the experience and share new stories using digital technologies.”  

Matt Thompson, Head of Collections at English Heritage, talked about the importance of technology in helping English Heritage share collections and stories: “English Heritage is looking for new ways to open our sites to the public and share their stories. With Google Arts & Culture, we’ve been able to bring people closer to our historic masterpieces, open up our storehouses to a global audience, and showcase unseen artifacts.”

The English Heritage collections can be viewed online with Google Arts & Culture and on our iOS and Android apps.

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