Last weekend, a new museum was officially added to the Smithsonian. The National Museum of African American History and Culture documents African American has a collection of more than 36,000 artifacts that document the life, history, culture and stories of African Americans. It also has gotten Google’s help to become the most technologically advanced museum in the world – and a $1 million grant as part of Google’s work on racial and social justice issues.
Thanks to a team of Google engineers working on various products from Maps to YouTube and members of the Google Cultural Institute, the NMAAHC offers an experience that focuses on user interaction and showcases much more objects than what actually fits within the galleries.
When asked to work on the museum, Google engineers started looking for a way to enrich the museum experience for the years to come through devices and systems that could be easily managed by the museum staff themselves by swapping out content according to exhibitions.
Visitors will be able to explore the collections through 360 video, multiple screens and touchscreens that can be controlled via mobile devices, to rotate an object and see it from all angles thanks to 3D scans. So they can really be part of the museum and share their story, the NMAAHC even includes video recording booths which content is later curated and shown in the galleries. The exhibition is also completed by an online experience, with trails that are important for African American History being included into Google Expeditions.
The NMAAHC probably is the very first museum that has been codesigned by museum experts and a major tech company, but Google has been working with museums for years on projects like History Gallery of the Palace of Versailles, thanks to which 11 new rooms were open to visitors in 2012.