Arts and Culture

Preserving stories of Black History in the UK and beyond

Masquerading The Art of the Notting Hill Carnival 1986-1987

In 1981, African-American civil rights leader Queen Mother Moore visited the U.K. on a speaking tour that would have an enduring impact on Black British history. Coming in the wake of London’s Brixton uprisings, her teachings from the movement in the U.S. would go on to inspire the foundation of the Black Cultural Archives (BCA), a living monument to Black history and culture. 

To celebrate Black History Month in the UK this October, Google Arts & Culture partnered with the BCA to bring its unique collection of images, artifacts and artworks together online for the first time

Based in London’s Brixton neighborhood, the Black Cultural Archives is the only national heritage center dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of African and Caribbean people in Britain. With this project, Google Arts & Culture has digitized over 4,000 items from the BCA to help inspire and educate. 

The collection features over 30 online stories, with highlights including the Black Women’s movement in the UK, the evolution of Black British dance and a collection of paintings and ceramics by Jamaican-born artist Rudi Patterson. Thanks to our Art Camera technology, you can now study the intricate details of newly digitized artworks in Gigapixel resolution.

This past summer, Google Arts & Culture also partnered with London’s Somerset House to digitize and share stories from its recent exhibition Get Up, Stand Up Now, which explored the past 50 years of Black creativity in Britain and beyond. The partnership culminated in a new collaboration with Samm Henshaw, recognized by YouTube Music UK as a “One To Watch” emerging artist. Inspired by the generations of creative pioneers featured in the Somerset House exhibition, Samm wrote an original track honoring “the motherland” and invited visual artist Wumi Olaosebikan to contribute a creative response to his song through painting.

The theme of the motherland can also be found in another new exhibition on Google Arts & Culture. Everyone in the world can trace their origins back to East Africa, which is sometimes called the cradle of mankind. We’ve collaborated with the National Museums of Kenya in a new online collection that celebrates the heritage and stories of Kenya’s many communities.

This is Google Arts & Culture’s most ambitious project to date in Africa, and lets you explore Kenya across cultures, generations and geography through over 10,500 high resolution photographs, more than 100 expert-curated exhibits and 60 Street Views

To explore these remarkable stories in more detail, and to discover collections from more than 2,000 museums around the world, visit the Google Arts & Culture app for free either on the web or on iOS or Android.