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Contact: Theresa Langford, Curator, (360) 816-6252
In a partnership between the National Park Service (NPS) and Google, Fort Vancouver will be featured in the Google Cultural Institute, a digital platform which makes hundreds of historically and culturally significant objects in the National Park Service's museum collection available online. The Google Cultural Institute uses technologies similar to Google's Street View - providing 360-degree views on Google Maps of locations around the world - to photograph and virtually map important artifacts, photos, records and works of art to share important material with global audiences and digitally preserve them for future generations.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell made the announcement at an event marking Black History Month at Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, one of the national parks featured in the Google Cultural Institute collection.
"This marriage of technology and history means that anyone, anywhere can see artifacts and sites that provide a taste of the rich and diverse story of America," Secretary Jewell said. "Our hope is that this partnership will not only illustrate and elevate our nation's history and culture, but inspire more people to visit the wonderfully diverse places that the National Park Service protects and preserves for current and future generations."
The NPS, celebrating its Centennial anniversary this year, is home to one of the world's largest museum systems. Over 380 park museums, 45 million objects and 76,000 linear feet of archives help tell powerful stories of America's land, people, and significant events and ideas that continue to inspire the world.
Visitors to the National Park Service's "channel" will be able to view more than 3,800 works of art, artifacts and records, as well as a Centennial Virtual Exhibit, which features a significant museum object from over 350 national park sites. Users can also build their own collections to share or take virtual, panoramic tours of homes of eminent Americans.
"We are honored that Fort Vancouver is one of the pilot parks featured on the NPS channel, as well as one of the national park units in the Centennial Virtual Exhibit. We welcome this opportunity to share our museum collection with a global audience," said Curator Theresa Langford. Fort Vancouver staff care for over three million items, including artifacts from several national parks and federal and municipal partners. Although the museum collection curated at Fort Vancouver also includes historical, biological, and ethnological items, it is most well known as one of the largest collections of archaeological artifacts in the National Park Service and includes indigenous, fur trade, and military material culture.
"The National Park Service is proud to partner with Google to make important symbols of our shared national heritage accessible to more Americans than ever," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "Visitors to the National Park Service collection in the Google Cultural Institute will have the unique opportunity to see rare Native American artifacts, browse inspiring works of art that convey our nation's history and natural beauty, and virtually walk through the homes of great American thinkers, like Frederick Douglass and Thomas Edison."
"The magic of technology is that it allows us to fold space and time to bring people together with places, experiences, artifacts, and each other in ways that before were impossible," said Malika Saada Saar, Google's Senior Counsel on Civil and Human Rights. "That's what the Google Cultural Institute does, and we are thrilled to work with the National Park Service to help preserve these beautiful American places, objects, and stories."
Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site tells the story of the first African-American men trained to fly combat aircraft for the Army Air Corps during World War II. At least 1,000 aviators were trained, and more than 10,000 military and civilian African-American men and women served in a variety of support roles, opening a door for greater inclusion in the military. Jewell met with surviving Tuskegee Airmen to hear their stories of service in defense of our nation.
At Tuskegee, Jewell was joined by fourth graders from DC Wolfe Elementary School, Tuskegee Public School, and Notasulga Elementary School, who participated in a virtual reality flight simulation activity and learned about the Tuskegee Airmen's contributions to the nation. The students received Every Kid in a Park passes that provide fourth graders nationwide free entry for them and their families to more than 2,000 federally managed lands and waters nationwide for an entire year. The Every Kid in a Park initiative is part of an overall effort in the Obama Administration to connect young people to the outdoors.
On August 25, 2016, the NPS will celebrate 100 years of protecting, preserving, and sharing the nation's national parks. For the last 100 years, operating under the U.S. Department of the Interior, the NPS's mission has expanded to help communities across the United States to revitalize their communities, preserve local history, celebrate local heritage, and create close-to-home opportunities for kids and families to get outside, be active, and have fun. For more information on the NPS's Centennial effort, visit https://www.nps.gov/subjects/centennial/index.htm