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Google celebrates “West Side Story” with a digital retrospective

There are still great museums to visit in the real world, but Google’s online virtual museum known as “Arts & Culture” is this week launching a look at one of the more important musicals of our time.

True story: back when this writer was teaching himself how to program, he started dabbling in video game mods for the title “Half-Life”, experimenting with one based on “West Side Story” where gangs would fight based on clicking their fingers. A film and musical that really connected, it was a combination of the music and retelling of “Romeo and Juliet” that grabbed him in a way the original play had not.

And he’s not alone. Whether you know it because of the music, the fashion, the Broadway musical, or the film you can find more easily, “West Side Story” is one of the more important retelling of one of Shakespeare’s most known stories.

This year, the musical celebrates its 60th birthday, and that’s a big deal for the drama, following the story of teenage gangs of ethnic diversity and the quarrels between them, which no doubt can still be found in strands of today.

Much of the history of the film and musical hasn’t really been brought to life outside of the world of fans of the Leonard Bernstein musical, which in turn has inspired numerous jazz albums from some of the greats, but this week Google is coming together with the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall, the Museum of the City of New York, and the National Museum of American Jewish History, with this combined effort resulting in a virtual museum displaying photos, artifacts, and a digital exhibit curating the importance of “West Side Story” into one exhibit.

If you’re a fan of the franchise, you’ll love what has been compiled, and if you’re a fan of history, it’s a fantastic look at the life that was, available on both the Google Arts & Culture website, and on the Arts & Culture apps on iOS and Android.

And if you’re one of those future-friendly folk grappling with 360 degree VR videos now, while the film was definitely not filmed in that style, Google and Carnegie Hall have come together to build a 360 degree video on the song “Cool” from the musical, not to mention being able to experience the entire exhibit inside the virtual world on Daydream View VR.

The project is one of many found on Google’s digital arts museum, and includes exhibits by artists such as Gauguin, Monet, and Van Gogh, not to mention digital exhibits on contemporary art, street art, and
Cuban art.

That’s your Sunday time waster sorted. Now if you don’t mind, we’re getting out the Blu-ray for “West Side Story”. Writing this story has given us a hankering to get our finger clicking on.

Image from the Google Arts & Culture website, credit: Google

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