Google Digitizes and Puts Online a Vast Archive of Latino Artworks and Artifacts

You can’t under­stand human cul­ture in the 21st cen­tu­ry with­out under­stand­ing Amer­i­can cul­ture, and as any­one who’s spent time in most any major U.S. city knows, you cer­tain­ly can’t under­stand Amer­i­can cul­ture with­out under­stand­ing Lati­no cul­ture. I write this while trav­el­ing in Los Ange­les, a city that makes that point with par­tic­u­lar­ly impres­sive force, but just a few moments with an overview of Lati­no art will under­score the vital­i­ty it has pro­vid­ed Amer­i­ca, and thus the world. You could do lit­tle bet­ter for such an overview than the Google Cul­tur­al Insti­tute’s brand new Lati­no Cul­tures in the U.S. project, a siz­able free dig­i­tal archive of Lati­no art and arti­facts of Lati­no his­to­ry.

Forbes’ Veron­i­ca Vil­lafañe quotes Google and Youtube Head of His­pan­ic Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Jesús Gar­cía as describ­ing the archive as “a labor of love for many Googlers and part­ner insti­tu­tions. It was a project that was more than a year in the mak­ing and took a small army to help dig­i­tize the 2,500 new art­works and curate 69 new exhibits.”

As a whole it offers “over 4,300 archives and art­works — includ­ing Diego Rivera murals — relat­ed to the Lati­no expe­ri­ence in the U.S., mul­ti­me­dia exhibits in Eng­lish and Span­ish and vir­tu­al tours of his­toric sites, as well as pro­files of key Lati­no fig­ures, such as Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huer­ta and Supreme Court Jus­tice Sonia Sotomay­or.”

Google Head of Lati­no Com­mu­ni­ty Engage­ment Lau­ra Mar­quez notes that it also allows you to “vis­it some of the most vibrant neigh­bor­hoods in the U.S. — the homes to and cen­ters of Lati­no cul­ture— by way of his­toric pho­tographs or unmiss­able loca­tions on Google Street View, all from your phone.” You’ll also find “ultra-high res­o­lu­tion images of icon­ic Lati­no murals, such as Diego Rivera’s Detroit Indus­try from the Detroit Insti­tute of Arts.” Using the for­mi­da­ble explorato­ry plat­form of Google Earth, the project has also cre­at­ed a whole Lati­no Murals in the U.S. sec­tion, from River­a’s work in Detroit to José Clemente Oroz­co’s Prometheus in Cal­i­for­nia to the Mia­mi Arti­sans’ Free­dom Tow­er mur­al at Mia­mi Dade Col­lege.

You can also browse the Lati­no Cul­tures in the U.S. Project’s offer­ings by form, includ­ing dance, film, music, and style. And though the designs of Oscar de la Renta, the songs of Glo­ria Este­fan, the paint­ings of Frank Romero (and, of course, lowrid­ers) have drawn the inter­est of many a non-Lati­no toward Lati­no cul­ture, what has done quite so much out­reach as the food? Google’s project even cov­ers that ter­ri­to­ry with con­tent like an edi­to­r­i­al fea­ture on “Fast Food, Tor­tillas, and the Art of Accept­ing Your­self” by Javier Cabral, a food crit­ic based, and well known, in — where else? — Los Ange­les.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Bat­tle for LA’s Murals

Charles & Ray Eames’ Short Film on the Mex­i­can Day of the Dead (1957)

Google Puts Online 10,000 Works of Street Art from Across the Globe

Google Lets You Take a 360-Degree Panoram­ic Tour of Street Art in Cities Across the World

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.


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