Baton Rouge’s most colorful outdoor murals are now on display for the world to see as part of the Google Cultural Institute.
The institute collects and archives eye-catching sights from around the world, ranging from art to historic moments to world wonders. Its leaders are now partnering with artists worldwide — including one in Baton Rouge — to document street art before it’s gone.
“Google is providing the technology, and the partners are really the experts,” said Google Cultural Institute Program Manager Lucy Schwartz. “They use our tools to really highlight the local theme”
The Baton Rouge collection of art features the trademark paintings and pieces of art on brick and cinder block walls mostly in Old South Baton Rouge, situated between the LSU campus and downtown. Those include creative likenesses of Maya Angelou, colorful hands escaping from chains and 3-D depictions of shapes and colors.
Kevin Harris, director of Baton Rouge’s Museum of Public Art, is responsible for collecting art for the archive. Harris declined to be interviewed for this story, saying he prefers to “let the art speak for itself.”
Christine Sparrow, president of the Old South Baton Rouge Civic Association, said the art in Old South Baton Rouge has been a benefit to the community and put a new face on blighted property. She said she’s thrilled about the partnership with Google.
“I just love it,” she said. “They can visually come through and see what’s in the community.”
Though the Google archives capture street art from more than 30 countries, Baton Rouge is the only Louisiana city featured. Neighboring cities with archived street art collections include Dallas and San Antonio, Texas, while those perusing the website can find galleries from Berlin and Rome.
Schwartz said the street art collection is not meant to be comprehensive, but said they would be happy to grow the database over time.
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