In commemoration of Black History Month, tech giant and diversity catalyst, GOOGLE, partners with the NMAAHC for the unveiling of an interactive experience

On Friday, February 2nd, Google unveils a new interactive installation at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The installation – constructed by a team of engineers through Google’s Black Googler Network – follows a $1M Google.org donation dedicated in 2016 to commemorate the museum’s initial opening.

Google is donating a 3-D installation to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which will redefine how people are able to interact with the museum’s rarest artifacts

  • In 2016, Google.org donated $1M to the NMAAHC in an effort to support its mission to expand access to important historical artifacts to the nation.
  • The engineering team responsible for coding the project did so in their spare time – each has a unique role within Google unrelated to this particular project.
    • Dr. Travis McPhail – Travis McPhail, PhD., is a Senior Software Engineer and Tech Lead at Google who works on Google Maps. He leads the team of engineers (though BGN) who work on Project Griot. This was the exclusive that talks about the donation as  whole (for which he was the lead spokesperson)
    • Jelani Gould Bailey– Is a web solutions engineer who works to make DoubleClick ads products better for users. Jelani built the content management system (CMS) that the museum will use to update the content displayed on the new installation, and helped integrate the 3-D data with the installation.
    • Bria Sullivan – Bria Sullivan is an engineer who builds software that helps advertisers get the most value out of money spent with Google. A self-described “accidental engineer,” Bria worked to design the user interface and user experience implementation for the new installation.
    • Caleb Young – Caleb Young is a software engineer who works to make Google’s buildings smarter and more secure. Caleb has been involved Project Griot since its inception, and as a result, has performed a number of different roles as the project developed. Most recently, he has focused on providing system design feedback to the team and verifying that Google’s software will work on the museum’s hardware.
    • Megan Schofield and Kelsey Livingston – Megan Schofield and Kelsey Livingston are experience design leads who work to ensure that people have the best interactions possible with Google at events and pop-ups. Megan and Kelsey are in close coordination with the museum to manage the placement of the installation.
  • Visitors will now be able to interact with a range of rare artifacts, including a tin of Madame C.J. Walker’s wonderful hair grower, three-inch platform boots that once performed on Broadway, and a cast of a piano player’s left hand.

Here’s Travis’s original blog post, which talks about his interaction with Dr. Bunch.

“A few years ago, Dr. Lonnie Bunch, the NMAAHC’s director, came to Google’s headquarters and shared his vision to make the museum the most technologically advanced in the world. I immediately knew I wanted to be involved, and pulled together people from across the company: designers who focus on user interaction, members of the Cultural Institute, engineers who work on everything from Google Maps to YouTube, and members of the Black Googler Network. For the past year, we’ve been working to deliver on Dr. Bunch’s vision.

Our team quickly learned that museums are often only able to showcase a fraction of their content and archives to visitors. So we asked ourselves: what technology do we have at Google that could help enrich the museum experience? We worked closely with the museum to build an interactive exhibit to house artifacts from decades of African American history and let visitors explore and learn about them. With 3D scanning, 360 video, multiple screens and other technologies, visitors can see artifacts like a powder horn or handmade dish from all angles by rotating them with a mobile device. The interactive exhibit will open in spring 2017.”

Dr. Travis McPhail, Dr. Lonnie Bunch, and Vint Cerf share a moment in front of the Google 3D Interactive Experience at the NMAAHC.

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