The Ministry of Culture has launched a national portal for museums. Collections in all museums under its control and those under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will be digitized and presented on this portal. This portal has been developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) with technical help from The Art Institute of Chicago.
Currently, over 11,000 digitized artifacts from 10 museums, namely Indian Museum, Kolkata, Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata, National Museum, New Delhi, Allahabad Museum, Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru, Archaeological Museum, Nagarjunakonda, and Archaeological Museum, Goa, are on display on the portal.
Collections in other museums under the Ministry of Culture and ASI are expected to be digitized over the next 3-4 years and presented for online viewing. In 2014-15 collections at Ratnagiri Museum, Halebidu Museum, Lothal Museum, Mattancherry Palace, Cochin, Fort St. George Museum, Chennai, Bodhgaya Museum, and Sarnath Museum are to be digitized. Apparently, the National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities (NMMA) has also created a database of over 2 lakh antiquities, though it’s not clear if these would be made available on the portal or not.
Website: The portal is easy to use. Users can search particular artifacts in individual museums or click on any of 10 museums displayed below and browse their collections. There is also an interesting ‘Timeline’ feature that allows users to browse through different categories of artifacts, like Miniature Painting, Sculpture, Manuscripts, Pottery, etc) across different time periods, starting with 7th Century and up to the 19th Century. It’s a great first step, but a lot more work is required for this digital repository to be really beneficial.
Google Heritage Sites: Google had partnered with the ASI to create 360-degree street view imagery of 100 prominent heritage sites on Google Maps, in October last year. These images can be viewed on Google Earth and as part of Google’s World Wonders project as well. This year in February, Google added panoramic imagery of the Taj Mahal and 29 other heritage sites on Google Maps. Later, in August it added 360-degree panoramic images of 76 more heritage sites to Google Maps.
Google Art Project: Back in 2012, Google had extended its Google Art Project to India, by partnering with the National Gallery of Modern Art and National Museum to include their artwork in the project. Google showcased 94 works of art from the National Gallery of Modern Art, and 142 pieces from the National Museum including Raja Ravi Varma’s oil paintings from the 1890s to Jamini Roy’s fusion of tribal and folk culture through this initiative.