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Google’s Cultural Institute Takes NMA to the World

HerCanberra Team

A virtual tour of the National Museum of Australia’s galleries in Canberra will allow online visitors to remotely explore the Museum’s vast collection, in an inaugural collaboration with Google Australia.

As part of its Cultural Institute website under the Museum View feature, Google Australia has captured some 7,000 square metres of National Museum galleries and Main Hall with links provided connecting virtual visitors to detailed information on more than 125 individual items.

The Cultural Institute website will also feature two of the National Museum’s most significant collections, allowing global audiences to explore both convict love tokens and rare frontier life and Aboriginal desert culture, through the early twentieth century photographs of Herbert Basedow.

National Museum director Dr Mathew Trinca said he was delighted to join other cultural institutions from around the world, including the Australian War Memorial and the National Portrait Gallery, in showcasing galleries and collections to a global audience.

“The National Museum welcomes the opportunity to reach even broader audiences both in Australia and overseas by offering digital exhibitions and tours to people who cannot visit our Canberra site,” said Dr Trinca.

The virtual tour of the National Museum allows remote visitors to ‘walk’ the Museum’s corridors and explore objects close up, such as a small work-table made in England from wood collected at Sydney Cove in the 1790s. Featured objects also include Holden Prototype Number 1, the only survivor of three test sedans which became the definitive model for millions of Holden cars, and the painting Story of the Women’s Camp and Origin of Damper by Pintupi artist Anatjari Tjakamarra, which travelled to Canada as part of the first major international exhibition of Aboriginal art in 1974.

The Cultural Institute website highlights Convict Love Tokens – 1817-1845 which features 20 engraved tokens which were made by convicts around the time of their sentencing and given to friends and loved ones as mementos.

This exhibit includes tokens by Thomas Alsop, a 21 year old brick labourer who was convicted in 1833 for stealing a sheep. One token which features an engraved three-masted ship was made for his Mother and reads: “Accept this dear Mother from your unfortunate son”.

The second exhibit on the Cultural Institute website is A Different Time – Frontier Life in Australia in the Early 20th Century, which features 30 photographs taken by anthropologist, geologist, scientist and explorer Herbert Basedow between 1903 and 1928.

The images include rare photographs of Indigenous men preparing for an Emu hunt around1905 and ploughing with camels in South Australia in 1920.

The Google Cultural Institute is dedicated to creating technology that helps the cultural community to bring their cultural treasures, archives, heritage sites and other material online. The aim is to increase the range and volume of material from the cultural world that is available for people to explore online and in doing so, democratise access to it and preserve it for future generations. For more information, visit

Feature images are screenshots captured from the virtual tour of the National Museum of Australia on Google. 


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