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Google Street View, art, and quality social studies instruction

I never really thought much about using art as a social studies instructional tool. It was never something mentioned during my methods classes. We never studied it during my history content courses. And I never had much experience actualy creating art.

I mean . . . sure, I finger painted with the best of them. But it just didn’t occur to me to find ways to integrate art as part of my social studies instruction.

Then my kids came along. They loved creating all sorts of art. (The whale to the left is from my son’s primitive stage.) So I learned more about past and present art, I began thinking about the context of the artists, and I started seeing how art in all of its forms are great examples of primary sources.

The Smithsonian and the National Portrait Gallery strategies and lessons helped. I also fell in love with Google’s Arts and Culture site. So much goodness.

And now Google is making it even easier to find and view artwork for your lessons and units.

Rolled out yesterday, Google Street View on Google Maps is now even more interactive than before. (You did know that you could “walk” through hundreds of museums and historical sites using virtual Street View, right? Including places like the White House, Machu Picchu, the Palace of Versailles, and Pompeii. Awesome!)

Now when you walk through a museum on Google Maps, you are able to interact with the artwork – hovering over a piece of art loads up clear and useful annotations on the wall next to each piece. Clicking on the annotations takes you to a new page with more info, all provided by the museum itself. You can also zoom in to get high resolution imagery.

So if I open up Google Maps and type in “Museum of Modern Art,” Google heads up to NYC. I zoom in a bit and drag the Street View guy on top of the blue lines inside the building.

I then can “walk” around the museum until I find something I’m interested in.

Clicking the dot that appears as I hover over the artwork opens a sidebar with more info as well as a link to a high-rez version.

This new feature is slowly rolling out around the world so not every museum currently with Street View options has the interactive piece available yet. I buzzed over to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and it’s still not playing nice.

For those of you with the love of video, check out the nifty Google promo with sound effects:

Need a few more art integration ideas and strategies?

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Glenn is a curriculum and tech integration specialist, speaker, and blogger with a passion for technology and social studies. He delivers engaging professional learning across the country with a focus on consulting, presentations, and keynotes. Find out more about Glenn and how you might learn together by going to his Work with Me page.

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