Google’s Arts & Culture’s newly launched application went viral across social media platforms in 2016. A commonly shared post included the face recognition software that matched the user’s facial features with a painting or sculpture, called the “Portrait Matcher,” and the most comical photos received the most “likes,” or the most comments on Social Media.
Google tapped into the already established trend to use the “Snapchat” style user experience in order to garner excitement for the arts and culture, and this tactic worked beautifully two years ago. Currently, however, their web site for their arts and culture division appears to have grown stagnant and lacks the same viral popularity the site once commanded at their launch.
Their mission to allow users to virtually visit any museum, gallery, or study a work of art in high definition detail, has neglected to cultivate into a much needed broader ambition. Google, despite their incredible resources, has certainly failed to evolve their Arts & Culture platform into a virtual phenomenon over the last two years, and the lack of ambition displays harshly through their inactive web site, and their underdeveloped objectives.
A quick visit to artsandculture.google.com reveals a familiar web site that has not changed much over the last few years. To Google’s credit, however, the web site continues to develop a depth of work from all over the world, and they appear to place more emphasis on works from non-European artists, but the site lacks the social media presence to market the database’s multi-culturalism. Specifically, Google Arts & Culture has neglected to build a prominent YouTube presence, and their channel operates as an ineffectual attempt to advertise their art database. Experts of cultural consumerism understand the importance of YouTube as the most prolific platform for exposing new art to new audiences. In the 2015 report “The Cultural Lives of Californians,” the authors pointedly discussed the major role technology plays in the world of arts and culture, and found that on a yearly basis, 62% of Californians will discover new artists, and new art work from YouTube. The report further expands the data by explaining their findings across racial groups, and found that more non-white Californians use YouTube, and Social Media as a whole, to engage with new art and culture (Novak-Leonard, 2015).
With these report findings in mind, Google’s lackluster YouTube presence cheapens their successful multi-cultural approach for their arts database. Their followers are just over eighty thousand, but their videos generally accumulate less than ten thousand views. Most recently, ome of their YouTube posts flaunted their accomplishments in the “art meets technology” realm, and the video accumulated just under four thousand views. In comparison, their specific video that introduced Google Arts & Culture’s new database in 2016 gathered over four hundred thousand views – further illustrating their popularity at launch and their loss of relevance in 2018.
Google Art & Culture’s mission began as a virtual platform with the broad objective to allow users to travel all over the world and experience any museum, gallery, or a specific work of art through the internet, but Google has not expanded or allowed that mission to evolve in over two years. They have accomplished amazingly innovative virtual accomplishments with their “zoomable” art works but seem to underestimate their viewers sophistication and repeatedly highlight the most overused work of Van Gogh.
In the future, Google will need to reach broader multi-cultural audiences by better developing their YouTube channel. Instead of advertising their technological accomplishments, their YouTube videos should focus on the amazing work they already do, like their daily inspiration article “10 Inspiring Latinas Who’ve Made History,” or “Incredible India: Poetry in Stone,” and yet another possible choice, “Design + Crafts: A Closer Look at Yodoe Umbrellas.” In order to stay relevant, Google Arts & Culture will need to better utilize their YouTube channel to promote the remarkable depth of world art already available in their collection.
Novak-Leonard, J. (2015). The Cultural Lives of Californians, Insights from the California Survey of Arts & Cultural Participation. The James Irvine Foundation.