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Google Says Kansas City Is The First U.S. City On Its Arts & Culture Platform

Tim Hursley
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
A view of the exterior of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. On the Google site, you can zoom in to explore this image.

Google says Kansas City will be the first city in the United States to have its own place on the search engine's Arts & Culture platform.

"So all in one place, you're going to see over 2,000 artworks and artifacts, over 40 online stories, all telling the history of Kansas City and its art scene today," said project manager Jamie Burchfield. "And you can see that content through online exhibits, through virtual reality tours, through ultra-high resolution photographs of artwork." 

Fifteen area arts organizations, including the Black Archives of Mid-America and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, are featured on the Kansas City project site. Some, like The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, have posted content on the site for years, but others, such as the Kansas City Art Institute, are new partners.

The mission of Google Arts & Culture is "to bring the world arts and culture online for anyone, anywhere to enjoy," said Burchfield. The app and website launched in 2011, and it now partners with more than 1,800 cultural institutions around the world. 

Previously, Google Arts & Culture launched digital projects focused on European cities, such as Lyon, France, and Hamburg, Germany.

Credit Visit KC
Kansas City's cuisine, such as barbecue, is featured on the Google Arts & Culture site. There are also tips on "How to order KC BBQ like a local."

Whit Bones, the Art Institute's director of marketing and communications, said the Google team worked closely with them to build the content, providing advice and some technical expertise. 

"The appealing thing about this platform is that we have a level of ownership," said Bones, "and we can grow it over time." 

Matthew Naylor, president and CEO of the National World War I Museum and Memorial, said the organization's relationship with Google Arts & Culture spans about five years, involving more than a dozen online exhibitions. 

"In 2018, people from 90 different countries came to the National World War I Museum and Memorial. Online, we were visited by people from 210 countries," said Naylor. "So the reach that comes from the result of partnerships, such as that with Google, really can't be underestimated."  

The site offers stories about Kansas City food, music and history, and also provides a new perspective on cultural organizations, from exterior street views to 360-degree images inside galleries, such as the American Jazz Museum's exhibit space, or sites, such as Harry S. Truman's home. 

"I think Kansas City is a great city, but, as we know, we're in the Midwest, and people sometimes view that as flyover country, " said Kimberlee Ried, public affairs specialist with the U.S. National Archives, one of the partners.

Ried says she hopes area residents, as well as those who've never visited, will discover that "we have a lot of hidden gems across the city."

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter at @lauraspencer

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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