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Shenandoah National Park featured in Google online exhibit

googleIn a partnership between the National Park Service and Google, Shenandoah National Park 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 “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. Shenandoah National Park is proud to have a historic photo of Mary’s Rock Tunnel Overlook from its museum collection featured as part of the partnership with the Google Cultural Institute. Users can also build their own collections to share or take virtual, panoramic tours of homes of eminent Americans.

“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.”

The historic photo from Shenandoah National Park is found on the Google Cultural Institute website in the National Park Service, Centennial One Object Exhibit in theCollections from Virginia National Parks. It is a photo taken in 1938, featuring the park’s iconic Skyline Drive, Mary’s Rock Tunnel (an engineering feat at the time), the Mary’s Rock Tunnel Overlook, the rock guardwall (built by the Civilian Conservation Corps) and a beautiful view of the mountains in the distance. The photo represents the vision that early park advocates presented to Congress with the hope that they would select Shenandoah to become a National Park in the east.  They said “The greatest single feature … is a possible Skyline Drive along the mountaintop following a continuous ridge and looking down westerly on the Shenandoah Valley from 2500 to 3500 feet below, and also commanding a view of the Piedmont Plain stretching easterly to the Washington Monument, which landmark of our National Capitol may be seen on a clear day. Few scenic drives in the world could surpass it.” Their vision was ultimately fulfilled and Skyline Drive is still here today as a road on top of the mountains with outstanding views and numerous opportunities for recreation and renewal.

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 http://www.nps.gov/subjects/centennial/index.htm.