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Marzia Niccolai, Technical Program Manager at Google Cultural Institute, will be a coach at Startup Weekend Art London.

Marzia has worked at Google for 8 years, most recently as Technical Program Manager looking after cultural digitization efforts for Google’s Cultural Institute. Before working on the Google Art Project and the Cultural Institute, she worked on App Engine, part of Google’s scalable cloud computing solution. Originally from California, she attended Carnegie Mellon University and Columbia University. In this short interview, Marzia talks about her experiences at the Google Art Project and gives some tips for entrepreneurs.


How did you get involved with the Google Art Project?

I got involved with the Art Project before the first launch in 2011. At the time, I was working on Google App Engine, and they were building on our platform and had some questions. I was so excited about what I saw that I volunteered my 20% time. I worked on it first 20%, then 50% through 2012, when I moved to London to work on GAP full time.

What are the main challenges you encountered and how did you overcome them?

Every day presents new challenges, but that’s what keeps me around! When we started there were a lot of obvious challenges – just building a platform where you could find lots of amazing artwork from all over the world, have seamlessly integrated zoom view as well as an interior Google Museum view was a challenge.

But now the bar is higher and we have to think about how to keep pushing innovation forward online and keeping our growing number of cultural partners not only happy but involved in what we’d like to do.

What trends do you see happening in the area of art and technology?

Well, I’m not sure it would be considered a trend, but what I would like to see become more of a reality is a smooth integration between the offline and online art world so they become truly complementary experiences.

What advice would you give to arts entrepreneurs?

Probably the same I would give most people – that great ideas are easy to come by and the real work (and real genius) is in great execution. Focus first on delivering your core offering and then build on top of that.

For the projects I work on, I always have a longer term vision that I’m working toward. However, when it comes to the actual work I doing, I always want to have 90% confidence in what I’m doing this week, 80% confidence in what I’m doing this month and it decreases from there. For me, it keeps the balance between flexibility and longer term thinking.

Have you got an idea for combining art and technology to solve an art world problem?

I haven’t really thought about it – but if I did, it would probably include 3D.

Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at the Startup Weekend Art London in October!
Luba Elliott

  • MongoMove

    I did a search on Google for Tokyo, National Museum of Western Art. I tried a Maps.google.com of Tokyo, National Museum of Western Art. The video from this link: https://blog.google/products/search/searching-art-just-got-better-where-will-you-start/ — seemed to suggest you could have a virtual walk through the gallery, but I couldn’t get the virtual gallery visit like in the video. I had to click on the Street View link on the lower left and then double-click my way from the entrance to the galleries. I tried in Firefox and Chrome couldn’t get the little yellow guy to land in a specific gallery area.