Lin-Manuel Miranda, a composer and actor of Puerto Rican descent, is working with Google to digitize thousands of Caribbean art works to protect them from future hurricanes.
After Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico in 2017 and damaged countless homes and buildings, its citizens gained a new resolve to protect the island’s culture and legacy. Part of that legacy includes numerous art museums, damaged extensively by the storm. Luckily, however, the art works themselves survived, thanks to their quick removal to climate-controlled warehouses.
However, as these art museums face the long, expensive road to recovery, officials and art curators know that a bigger storm could hit harder. And that means that the island’s finest art pieces are at stake.
That’s why Google and Hamilton composer Lin-Manuel Miranda are joining forces to do something about it. Google’s Arts & Culture platform will use a extremely high-definition Art Camera to capture images of about 40,000 pieces, preserving them for years to come. The platform will create a digital archive of the works with the most cultural value.
Currently, the archive contains about 350 pieces from the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico, Museo de Arte de Ponce and Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico.
In addition to protecting the works from being lost forever thanks to damage from storms, the digital gallery will make Caribbean art known to a world that, unfortunately, doesn’t know much about it.
“We hope that the world will get a glimpse of the art treasures of Puerto Rico and — then come visit them,” Miranda said during the Nov. 7 launch event in San Juan, as reported by Quartz.
Caribbean art= hidden treasure
One painting, called “Flaming June” is, by popular opinion, the Ponce Art Museum’s finest work. However, it sat in storage for decades, away from the public eye. However, the Google Arts & Culture project will place these fine pieces within everyone’s reach.
“It’s a flare out to the world that there’s incredible art here,” Miranda told the Associated Press. “There’s no reason why Puerto Rican art should not be seen on the same stage as the Louvre, the Met and all the incredible other places where Google has come with its cameras to digitize the artwork.”
Besides spectacular digitized versions of the paintings, the Google Arts & Culture online gallery contains ample descriptions of the works. It also features contextual explanations and information about the artists.
You can see the high-resolution photos in the Google Arts & Culture Puerto Rico collection here. You can also download the free app for the web, iOS, and Android.
Take Lin-Manuel Miranda’s advice, and travel to Puerto Rico! You’ll discover that there’s so much more to the country than sunny skies and beautiful beaches. Besides being named the #1 Caribbean country in 2019’s Reader’s Choice Awards, this island has the perk of being a “no passport required” destination for US citizens.
Discover the island through its people, art, and culture. Remember, your visit to Caribbean art museums will help island countries preserve their culture for generations to come.
Main image: GLADYS VEGA/GETTY IMAGES
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