Lin-Manuel Miranda and Google introduce Puerto Rican art to everyone

The Hamilton creator joins Google Arts & Culture to bring the island's art treasures online in extreme detail.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
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Leslie Katz
2 min read

When Google brought hundreds of Puerto Rican artworks online Thursday for the world to enjoy, the spirit of Lin-Manuel Miranda was, as the Hamilton lyrics go, in the room where it happened.

The actor, composer and lyricist partnered with the Google Arts & Culture initiative to digitize treasures from the island, some in exquisitely high resolution that allows viewers to study the works down to their intricate shadows and brush strokes. 

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Goyita, by Rafael Tufiño Figueroa, depicts the artist's mother. 

Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña

"My family and I have visited the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture and all of the museum partners, and fell in love with the trove of art available from San Juan to Ponce and everywhere across the island," Miranda said in a statement. 

Thursday marks phase one of the project by bringing 350 works from across five centuries online. The project ultimately aims to digitize thousands more artifacts with historical and cultural value to highlight and share Puerto Rico's rich cultural heritage. 

"What you see in tourism magazines is only the tip of the iceberg," the project page reads. "There's more to what Puerto Rico is and who Puerto Ricans are." 

It's easy to get into a museum-meandering mood clicking around the diverse works. They include serene landscapes, joyful Abstract Expressionist pieces, paintings full of religious iconography and scenes depicting historical events like invading American troops landing at Ponce's old harbor in 1898. 

Portraits are significant both for the vivid faces they capture and what they say about the times. Goyita, a 1953 oil painting by Rafael Tufiño Figueroa, features the artist's own mother as the model. The dignified portrait shifted the gaze from the affluent few to the working-class many, breaking with Puerto Rico's portraiture conventions of the time. 

Goyita is one of the super high-res offerings in the collection, so you can see every nuanced flick of color in her steely eyes and the furrows in her brow. 

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The 1966 painting Cántico a Santiago de las Mujeres by Osiris Delgado Mercado captures the devotion toward Saint James the Greater that arrived in Puerto Rico along with the Spanish colonization of the island. 

Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña

The extreme detail on some of the works comes courtesy of Google Arts & Culture's Art Camera, a custom-made robotic shooter whose images are made up of more than a billion pixels and bring out details invisible to the naked eye. The camera has created more than 5,000 ultra-high resolution images of art from around the globe.

Museums from around Puerto Rico, as well as the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña also partnered with Google for the project. 

"To be the custodian of the most important collection of Puerto Rican art is a great undertaking. But to be able to showcase it to the world, is an accomplishment," said professor Carlos R. Ruiz Cortés, executive director of the ICP, which aims to share Puerto Rican culture. 

The Google Arts & Culture app is free and available on the web, iOS and Android

Now, go lose yourself in some art.