- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

VERMILLION, S.D. (AP) - Google will be taking its street-view technology inside the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota this week.

The museum in Vermillion will be the first South Dakota institution and the first collection focused primarily on musical instruments to join Google’s Cultural Institute. The online collection allows people to browse high-resolution photos of art and step virtually into galleries around the world.

“It’s just another way to get our instruments and our artworks out there to let the world know that we’ve got a real jewel . in the state of South Dakota,” said Margaret Banks, the museum’s associate director and senior curator of musical instruments.

A crew from Google will visit the museum Friday with a 7-foot trolley topped with the same type of camera that mapped streets across the world. Before the filming begins that evening, a public event from 10 to 11 a.m. at the museum will explain the project and give visitors a chance to browse collections that already are part of the Cultural Institute.

About 80 pieces from the National Music Museum already are featured on the Google site.

Since spring, Banks has posted photos of select instruments. She’ll continue to add more, but it’s no easy task to choose which instruments to feature out of a collection of 15,000, she said.

“It’s like picking out which of your children do you like best,” Banks said.

So far, she’s picked out some of the museum’s crown jewels, literally instruments owned by royalty. There’s the world’s oldest cello, nicknamed The King because it was made for the king of France. She’s also added string instruments made by Antonio Stradivari, as well as pieces from India and Africa.

Putting the music museum’s collection online next to pieces from world-famous museums helps people find these gems, even if they don’t know where to look, said Piotr Adamcyzk, program manager with Google’s Cultural Institute.

“It’s going to be terrific to see the kind of exposure they can get alongside some of the big names,” he said.

He said he expects the museum also will see more visitors in Vermillion once people know what they have to offer.

Google is open to any nonprofit institute joining the program, as long as the material is clear of copyright restrictions. Google always is looking for interesting and diverse collections, Adamcyzk said.

Officials at the music museum approached Google about being part of the project. There are no costs involved other than staff time.

Once Google’s trolley makes its run through the galleries, it will take six to eight weeks before the Google team can stitch the photos together and make the virtual tour available online.

___

Story Continues →