Amit Sood, senior director for Google Arts and Culture
Google has launched "Wonders of Vietnam", an online exhibition project as part of Google Arts & Culture (GA&C) that allows everyone to explore art, history and the wonders of the world.
Featuring 35 stories and over 1,300 sumptuous photos of iconic sites, historical heritage, nature, cuisine and culture of Central Việt Nam, the project is a unique way for hungry travellers to virtually explore. It is also an important part of Google’s overall support of the local tourism industry, which has been badly affected by pandemic-related travel restrictions.
Amit Sood, senior director for Google Arts and Culture, speaks to Việt Nam News about the project and how it can help the local tourism industry, and more.
What in Việt Nam motivated you to choose a project? What were the decisive criteria for you or the Google Arts & Culture team to choose this project?
There is so much rich culture and beauty to explore in Việt Nam, and we are excited to feature more content from Việt Nam on the Google Arts & Culture platform for people around the world to discover.
The contributions and curation on the page all come from our partners and collaborators. Google provides the technology platform that allows the material to be uploaded, managed, and exhibited online. For this project, we were encouraged by the local team and wonderful partners who were so passionate about showing the world the wonders of Việt Nam.
We’re happy to work with additional museums and cultural organisations in Việt Nam to bring more treasures online. Any museum or cultural organisation can apply at g.co/cisignup.
Can you tell us about the significance of Wonders of Vietnam, and the value this project brings to Việt Nam?
Wonders of Vietnam is special because we have tried to show a holistic approach to the country—showing nature, culture and intangible heritage.
The project gathers 35 stories and insights highlighting Việt Nam’s UNESCO world heritage sites and Intangible Cultural Heritage in one showcase for the first time, available both in Vietnamese and English. And that is something we are really proud of.
The tourism industry has been severely damaged by the pandemic, and in 2020 parts of the country also suffered from serious floods. How will Wonders of Vietnam help its tourism industry?
The project is an important part of Google’s overall support of the local tourism industry, which has been badly affected by pandemic-related travel restrictions.
With this new project, we hope we’ve been able to capture some of the spirit of Central Việt Nam, so Vietnamese people at home and all over the world can gain a new appreciation for the wonders of their country.
And eager travellers all over the world can discover Việt Nam, hopefully building more excitement for when they can visit in person.
By showcasing the Wonders of Vietnam, specifically from the Central region, we hope to also raise awareness on preserving the sites affected by the recent floods.
How has this project been implemented, and what are obstacles, if any? Who are the partners in Việt Nam, and who has supported the project?
We partnered with Việt Nam’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the National Administration of Tourism, the local tourism boards of Đà Nẵng, Quảng Nam, Thừa Thiên Huế and Quảng Bình, National Geographic award-winning photographer Trần Tuấn Việt, and Oxalis Adventure to capture the unique corners of Việt Nam.
Google provides the technology, the tools and the platform. The partner institutions bring their treasures and expertise. The partners do the curation and editorial work; they are the experts, they know this best. They upload assets, add descriptions, metadata (like locations associated with the assets, year of creation, etc), and add audio or video files, creating their exhibits.
Will Wonders of Vietnam continue in the future?
Yes, we certainly hope so, and continue to work with cultural institutions in Việt Nam.
It is known that you are the "father" of GA&C. What are you most proud of about GA&C? The number of exhibitions and 'digital museums' on GA&C are impressive. How will GA&C change in the future?
There are several fathers and mothers of Google Arts & Culture. It's really been a group effort through the years.
I’m most proud of the diversity of content on the site. Especially in the last few years, we’ve been able to highlight more aspects of art and culture like food, sports or beautiful destinations like what we have with Wonders of Vietnam. We’ve worked with over 2,000 cultural institutions from 80 countries.
Our interest is how you can apply technology to make cultural content of all kinds (not just art) more accessible and more interactive.
We’ve been doing more with technologies like virtual reality, AR or AI to do this. — VNS