Ultra high res Slav Epic part of major new Czech online art collection

The HeART of Czechia

A new project on the Google Arts & Culture platform is a real treasure trove, bringing together over 3,000 Czech art works from some of the country’s top institutions. Entitled The HeART of Czechia, it was launched within the Czech EU presidency. I discussed it with Liudmila Kobyakova, program manager at Google Arts & Culture.

“The basic idea was really to show the artistic and culture scene in Czechia.

“The project is dedicated mainly to three main topics, which is art, architecture and design.”

What are some of the most important works that are to be seen on this online gallery?

“Of course there are many. The exhibition is really huge – it’s actually one of the biggest projects that we have done in the Czech Republic.

“There are more than 3,000 art works, more than 40 Street Views that we have taken, and more than 100 stories that were shared by partners.

“But to speak of some of the highlights, the first is definitely the Slav Epic [by Alphonse Mucha].

“It’s the highlight of the collection.

“We did a digitization thanks to Google technologies. It’s digitization in ultra high resolution, so people will be able to see these amazing canvasses – which are huge; the hugest of them is six to eight metres high – in the finest detail.

“It’s a very, very detailed capture.

“Also the institution which owns the paintings right now, Prague City Gallery, developed very interesting story-telling tools across the paintings.

“So users are really able to learn about some of the stories which are hidden in the paintings.

“We have also had a collaboration with the Villa Tugendhat in Brno.

“There are lots of stories around the design, around the materials, around how the villa was built.”

Nineteen cultural institutions have taken part, including many of the most important in Czechia. How hard was it to pull all of them together, to pull all of this material together?

“It was a process [laughs]. It took us more than a year.

“We started the discussions late last year – and here we are at the end of 2022.

“I think with every museum, with every institution, it’s a very tailored type of a collaboration, so it really comes in different shapes.

“But once the institutions really got the idea of what we are trying to do I think the collaboration was actually quite smooth – and the more they are willing to contribute more of the stories, more of the materials, to be shared as a continuation of this project.”

Obviously it’s an online project. Are you expecting more visitors from inside Czechia, or from outside the country?

“We hope there are going to be visitors from both locations, of course.

“The project is currently translated into Czech and English, and because the platform is open for everyone we expect that users would come from both ends.

“We hope there are stories and there is information that would provoke curiosity from locals and also from people who do not know Czechia so well.”