national Arts Festival Banner

Saturday, October 1, 2022


(Above: Work by
Barbara Tyrell)

Google Arts & Culture hosted an event at the Phansi museum in Durban to announce a new partnership titled I Am Because You Are: A Celebration of South African Creativity. The online collaboration is with the Phansi Museum and eight other institutions across South Africa.

The project, which aims to celebrate the people of South Africa through traditional, ancient and contemporary art, brings online, for the first time, one of Africa’s biggest traditional art collections, housed at the Phansi museum. 

Amit Sood, Director of Google Arts & Culture is thrilled by the latest partnership with a South African organisation. “Thanks to our digitisation effort with the Phansi Museum, this hub will help us bring cultural treasures, inspiring stories about art, crafts to the people of South Africa and in the process, assist in the further development of the arts landscape in the country,” he said.

“So far this is our largest collection in South Africa, bringing online more than 5,000 artefacts for the first time. I hope art lovers, not only in South Africa, but also around the world will join the celebration to discover and explore the rich traditions and cultural wealth of this nation using our newly created platform,” he added.

Phansi Museum founder and director, Paul Mikula, has for many years travelled the world collecting some of the artefacts that form part of the collection. He is happy to finally see all the hard work bearing results. “It has been a long journey to get this project to this point, three of those years have been working with Google and we are proud to be partners. We hope this will allow our work to be seen and enjoyed by Africans in the diaspora but also by the world at large,” he said.

Dr Alistair Mokoena, Country Director for Google South Africa celebrated the fact that the public can now access, explore and discover the stories behind the museum through immersive tours and curated online exhibits, especially as South Africans mark Heritage Day.

“Our goal has always been to bring the world’s culture online for everyone - allowing individuals to experience it in new ways. This project has been three years in the making and we are thrilled to be able to bring over 5,000 high-resolution images, five museum views and 10 online exhibits digitally, to the public through Phansi Museum's bespoke page on the Google Arts & Culture website.”

The project includes new stories from the University of Pretoria, which celebrate South African women, eight new virtual tours from South African Tourism and Johannesburg Art Gallery, and expertly-curated stories from some of South Africa’s most important museums and institutions and platforms including the Origins Centre and Social Fabric.

“We are excited to see how this latest project is received. South Africa has a deep and varied history. It remains our main purpose, like with other cultures around the world, to continue preserving these treasures, making them accessible to anyone, anywhere,” concludes Mokoena.


Key stories available through the project include:

Five Artworks Telling South African Stories [Phansi Museum]

A Virtual Tour of Phansi Museum (Explore Phansi in 360) [Phansi Museum]

Medicine, Mending and Mastery: South Africa’s Sangomas and Inyangas [Phansi Museum]

God With A Wet Nose: In Praise of Cattle [Phansi Museum]

Ndebele Women Celebrated: Artist Barbara Tyrell pays homage to South African women through her illustrations [University of Pretoria]

Trance and Transformation in the San Great Dance

Journeys into Textile and Identity: Five South African Artists [Social Fabric]