The White House and Google launch a new virtual tour with audio captions, Spanish translation

The White House, Google Maps and Google Arts & Culture launched a new virtual tour of the famous mansion on Friday, which is also National Civics Day.

| Updated on: Oct 29 2023, 10:18 IST
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The White House with the help of Google Arts & Culture has launched a new virtual tour of the White House. It is the first such Google tour to include audio captions and Spanish translation and features portraits of the Obamas. (REUTERS)

Can't come to Washington? Couldn't get a ticket to tour the White House? Don't worry.

The White House, Google Maps and Google Arts & Culture launched a new virtual tour of the famous mansion on Friday, which is also National Civics Day.

With a computer or smartphone, users will be able to spend time zooming in on all of the rooms that they would have seen had they been able to go on an in-person tour.

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The updated virtual tour is part of a desire by first lady Jill Biden to make the White House accessible to as many people as possible. Biden, a longtime community college professor, hopes teachers use it to educate students about the White House and its history, said Elizabeth Alexander, her spokesperson.

“Not everyone can make the trip to Washington, D.C., to tour the White House, so she's bringing the White House to them,” Alexander said.

Biden traveled to Philadelphia on Friday for a National Civics Day event hosted by Nickelodeon, ATTN: and iCivics, where they announced “Well Versed,” a new short-form series that uses animation and music to help teach children about democracy and the Bill of Rights.

She talked about the Constitutional Convention held at Philadelphia's Independence Hall in 1787, where the founders of the United States created a government in which power rested with the people, not with kings and queens.

“That's still how our country works, and it's one of the things that make it so special," Biden said. "And when we understand civics, how our government works and how to hold it accountable, we are able to help each other and make our country the best it can be.”

The virtual tour is the first Google virtual tour of the White House to include audio captions for people with disabilities. The captions are narrated by White House social secretary Carlos Elizondo and pop up on the screen to offer viewers historical information on each of the rooms.

It is also Google's first virtual tour of the White House to have Spanish translation, and feature the official portraits of former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama.

The tour opens with a brief video of President Joe Biden and the first lady welcoming visitors, the same message that plays at the White House Visitors Center for those who visit in person.

Google Street View technology was used to capture the imagery, starting at the East Wing Entrance and moving through all rooms on the public tour route, including the library, the China Room, the Green, Blue and Red rooms, the East Room and the State Dining Room.

The tour was created using Google Arts & Culture's storytelling tool.

Ben Gomes, senior vice president of learning and sustainability at Google, said the mission of its arts and culture division is to open the world's culture to people everywhere.

The tour is available on the White House website, as well as on Google Maps and the Google Arts & Culture page.

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First Published Date: 29 Oct, 10:18 IST