Exploring the Maya World: A Digital Collaboration Between the British Museum and Google Arts & Culture

The British Museum is working with Google Arts & Culture to help more people from all of the world access its collection. The latest project in this collaboration is Exploring the Maya World – a digital repository of the Museum’s collection of casts and glass plate photographs of ancient Maya sites and monuments.

The Google Maya Project follows the steps of Victorian explorer Alfred Maudslay (1850-1931), who used the latest technology of his time to document ancient Maya art and writing. In the past three years, the project, in association with Google Arts & Culture, has digitised the Maudslay collection of the British Museum, consisting in around 500 plaster casts, the moulds used to make them, more than 800 glass plate negatives, and Maudslay’s notes and diaries.

This partnership with Google Arts & Culture has made it possible to scan the Museum’s collection of Maudslay’s images at an ultra-high resolution. The glass plate negatives Maudslay used to document the ancient Maya world have remained in storage in their original wooden boxes at the British Museum. Thanks to the Google Maya Project, these incredible images can be accessed by anyone around the world.

Visitors to the online resource can be taken on a virtual tour of some of the most famous sites of the ancient Maya world. You can explore 3D models of the Museum’s collection of plaster casts of ancient monuments, learn about who the ancient Maya were and how they lived, as well as gain an insight into the life of contemporary Maya communities. By using new digital technology to document past preservation techniques, this project aims to improve understanding of the Museum’s Maya collection and facilitate access to these unique resources.

Do check out the Google Maya Project and other online exhibits the British Museum has created in partnership with Google Arts & Culture.