DCMS blog

#CultureisDigital: A Digital Look into English Heritage

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Suhair Khan

Google Cultural Institute at Google

If I were to ask you to give examples of English culture, it would be pretty easy wouldn’t it? Perhaps you’d talk about food: our penchant for fish and chips, beans on toast, or yorkshire puddings. Or maybe our infrastructure: the venerable NHS or the London Underground. You might even talk about our behavioural quirks: our need to always apologise or our love of a respectable queue.

Our sense of heritage runs just as deep. A country as old as ours – spanning across the Roman, Medieval, Tudor, Civil War and Stuart periods through to the 21st century, has amazing stories to tell and many of the sites upon which they are founded still exist today. With such a wealth of English culture and heritage, technology can play a huge part in sharing this knowledge and ensuring access to these cultural treasure troves.

Google Arts and Culture

This is the main aim of Google Arts & Culture; a non-profit arm of Google that helps preserve and bring art, culture, history, and heritage to everyone through technology. In order to do this, we work closely with and provide technology to various cultural institutions like museums, charities, Trusts etc to digitise their collections and make them available for free to anyone, anywhere.

For this project, we’re partnering with the English Heritage Trust in celebrating the breadth of England’s historical, architectural, and cultural heritage by bringing historical stories and sites online to Google Arts & Culture. The English Heritage Trust is a charity organisation that manages the National Heritage Collection, comprising of over 400 of England’s historic buildings, monuments and sites spanning more than 5,000 years of history.

Experience our heritage

Through Google Arts & Culture, you’ll be able to experience the gems of English culture and heritage online including up to 2,000 images of historic artworks and artifacts such as the Kenwood House from Vermeer, Turner, and Rembrandt; the Antonio Zucchi’s ceiling from Kenwood House; and Frank Wilkins’ vast 1820 painting of the 1066 Battle of Hastings Battle of Hastings.

In addition to the images, we’ll also provide a 360 video tour of iconic moments such as Queen Victoria’s life at Osborne House and the fascinating Indian-inspired Durbar Room and the dramatic stories from York Cold War Bunker. One of the things I’m most excited about is the ability to explore through Google Museum View, historical sites such as Dover Castle, Hailes Abbey, Richmond Castle, Eltham Palace and many more – allowing you to [digitally] walk in the footsteps of those that have come before us.

Storytelling in the digital age

We launched this project in Parliament alongside English Heritage and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. John Glen MP,  Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism participated in the event, as the English Heritage project is a natural fit with his #CultureisDigital initiative. In his speech, he noted:

“Our #CultureIsDigital project aims to harness the creative potential of technology to increase awareness and engagement in our world-class cultural organisations.

“The collaboration between Google and English Heritage is a perfect example of how the heritage and tech sectors can work together to present our history and culture in new and exciting ways. It showcases the richness and variety of our cultural heritage to the world and demonstrates how we can enhance the experience and share new stories using digital technologies.” 

Creative conversations

#CultureisDigital is a conversation between Government, the cultural sector and tech companies to examine how culture and technology can work together to drive audience engagement, unleash the creative potential of technology and boost the capability of cultural organisations. Google Arts & Culture is supportive of the #CultureisDigital initiative; it speaks directly to our raison d’etre – connecting and engaging people with art and culture through technology.

The UK’s cultural contribution has always been something to be proud of and I’m excited about the opportunities that technology can provide to empower our best cultural institutions to share their amazing collections with the world. So be sure to explore and share the English Heritage collections online with Google Arts & Culture.



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