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How much do I love Google Arts & Culture?

A lot.

Seriously.

A ton.

Google Arts and Culture might just the most underutilized Google tool of all time. There is so much stuff that we as social studies teachers can use from the site. And if you haven’t been over there to poke around lately, youneed to get off the couch and head over.https://artsandculture.google.com/

First known as the Google Art Project, the site was launched just over ten years ago as an online platform that highlighted high-resolution images and videos of artworks and cultural artifacts from partner organizations and museums from around the world. So for history and humanities teachers, the site was super powerful from the get-go.

Basically it’s a database of artwork, objects, artifacts, and documents from thousands of museum collections and historical sites from around the world. Much of this content comes from Arts and Culture partners – public museums, galleries, and cultural institutions. These partners also provide such things as 3D tour views and street-view maps that allow you to “walk” through their actual brick and mortar sites.

So what kinds of things can you find at Arts & Culture? At the basic level, you can find artwork, history, and geographic places. But within that structure, there is so much more. Seriously. It is incredibly easy to stop in for a quick search and surface an hour later, having gotten sucked into whatever cool thing lead to the next cool thing that lead to a 3D tour of some cool place.

But recent changes and additions make it even more useful.

Need some great history, geography, or literature lesson plans? Start with their new 3 Tips for Teachers – a tutorial for using all of the goodness that is Arts and Culture. Then head over to the updated Learn With Google Arts & Culture page. You’ll find ready to use lesson plans, links to virtual field trips, and a wide variety of interactive activities.

The Google people are also now partnering with other museums in a couple of different ways. I especially love the partnership they have with the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

Together, the two groups have developed new online resources that explore identity through portraiture and the ways in which artist and sitters use portraiture as a means to convey individual, community/cultural, national and global identity. Your kids can explore the Portrait Gallery’s Google Arts and Culture exhibitions and images related to your lesson topic. 

Start with these tools:

When you get done there and have a minute to catch your breath, start by clicking the three line hamburger menu in the top left corner of the site. Scroll down to Historical Events.

You’ll find hundreds of specific topics such as World War Two or the 1960 presidential election. You can sort the events in a variety of ways but I like the Timeline option. Simply drag the timeline to the period you’re curious about and the results reset themselves.

Within each of the topics are hundreds of primary and secondary sources. The Civil War topic, for example, has 1,066 painting, photos, sheet music, letters, and artifacts.

But you should also check out Historical Figures. You can sort the results in the same way – alphabetically or with the timeline option.

The Places section provides a way for you to search the database for items specific to a geographic place. This is also where you can drill down to StreetView options for different places. Clicking any of the Partner links opens up a page with a StreetView icon. You can also simply scroll down the main Places page and see items with a StreetView icon.

Not enough? Get even more Arts and Culture goodness from this sweet presentation from the most recent NCSS conference by Laura Israelsen and Kelsey Pacer from Chesterfield County Public Schools.

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