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Now You Can Explore the British Museum Without Ever Leaving Home

Thousands of priceless artifacts are available to the public like never before, thanks to a partnership between the exhibition space and Google.

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There’s plenty to dislike about the internet. The proliferation of vile hate speech, its tendency toward mob behavior, and the fact that I still can’t watch Netflix without weird pixilated buffering, thanks to my lousy Wi-Fi connection. But, negatives aside, the internet remains one of the most powerful forces in the history of humankind—able to bring the world, and its peoples, together in ways we are only just beginning to understand. Take, for example, London’s British Museum.

Founded in the mid-18th century, the British Museum has been home to some of the most important artifacts in human history. The Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon Marbles, Rembrandts and Van Goghs all have, at some time or another, called the British Museum home. If aliens were to land on our planet and ask for the crash course in human history, this is where we’d probably take them. And now, for the first time ever, a partnership between the British Museum and Google’s Cultural Institute has brought the best of the museum to the world.

As National Geographic reports, the recently unveiled collaboration between the museum, and the Google Cultural Institute has digitized thousands of the items on display at the museum (admittedly, a fraction of the millions of artifacts they keep in storage) and created a virtual walk-through of the space: nine floors and more than 80 galleries in all.

Users now have access to high-res images of some of the world’s most significant artistic and historic artifacts, all without having to leave their house—important, considering that most of the world doesn’t live in London.

Said museum director Neil MacGregor in a release:

“The world today has changed, the way we access information has been revolutionised by digital technology. This enables us to gives the Enlightenment ideal on which the Museum was founded a new reality. It is now possible to make our collection accessible, explorable and enjoyable not just for those who physically visit, but to everybody with a computer or a mobile device. And this isn’t just about putting the collection ‘online'. Through our partnership with Google, we hope to give people new ways to experience and enjoy the Museum, new ways to learn, and new ways to teach.”

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According to the museum and Google, this partnership has created the largest indoor Street View in existence, with images of the museum taken before and after the site’s daily visiting hours. Specially curated digital exhibits are also available for public access, including one on Celtic life in Iron Age Britain, and another on ancient Egypt. Through their partnership, Google and the British Museum have also created what they call “the Museum of the World,” a discrete microsite that maps the museum’s items on a digital timeline, so users can “explore and make connections between the world’s cultures, and see what happened around the world at any one time.”

“We’re extremely proud to support the British Museum in their mission to be a museum of the world, for the world, through technology,” said Amit Sood, Google Cultural Institute’s director. “It’s an incredible thought that now anyone, anywhere can experience the riches of their expertly curated collection, which is probably the most comprehensive survey of the material culture of humanity in existence. What a wealth of knowledge to access!”

Wherever you are, you can explore the British Museum here.

[Via National Geographic]

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