By: Rona Berg | From: Forbes

On a hot sunny day this summer, San Antonio became the seventh US city–and the first in Texas–to team up with Google Arts and Culture, launching a global platform dedicated to sharing the city’s rich history, elevated gastronomy and vibrant arts and culture with the world.

The new partnership between San Antonio Arts & Culture, Visit San Antonio, the City of San Antonio, 19 local arts and culture institutions and Google now makes it easier for potential travelers from around the world to access information about the city’s deep artistic, culinary and cultural diversity. The platform is geared toward helping visitors plan a trip—preferably in fall, winter or spring—when the unseasonably high summer temperatures fade into a distant memory and the weather should be close to perfect.

Google Arts and Culture features over 3000 partners in 85 countries, and has launched similar partnerships in other US cities including Milwaukee, Charlotte, Atlanta, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City. But, according to Surya Tubach, US Lead for Google Arts & Culture, San Antonio is unique. “It's our first city in the Southwest,” says Tubach. “It's also the first UNESCO site we've highlighted in a US City project, and the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy. It was also the first project that had such a strong focus on Latino culture, which is such an important part of American culture.”

The immersive online experience features over 60 curated stories, 1600 artifacts, 100 videos and five sites shown in a 360-degree street view. It provides one-stop shopping for would-be travelers to San Antonio. The beautiful platform lets visitors in on a little secret: the city of San Antonio is a hidden gem, still under the radar despite the fact that it was named one of the Top 23 Places to Visit in 2023 by Conde Nast Traveler magazine and cited as one of the “Best Places to Travel” by Travel & Leisure magazine. San Antonio also boasts six James Beard Award nominees this year, seven in 2022.

The oldest city in Texas doesn’t immediately leap to mind, compared to other Texas destinations such as Austin, Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth. Of course everyone knows the Alamo and the Riverwalk are here. And the home team, the San Antonio Spurs, recently got a huge boost along with plenty of national media attention with the addition of the spectacularly talented French basketball sensation Victor Wembenyama, a.k.a. Wemby. But what about San Antonio’s vibrant arts and culture, world-class chefs and cuisine, many festivals, Fiesta, Dia de los Muertos and Pride celebrations?

“We look for a city that has a cultural scene that's growing, and a history that's rich and diverse,” says Tubach. “We also look for a city that will help us grow diversity on the platform,” she continues. “San Antonio is an amazing confluence of cultures, between indigenous roots, Latino heritage and the fact that the city used to be part of Mexico...That's a part of American culture we are excited about shining a spotlight on.”

San Antonio houses the largest collection of Latino art in the US. City funding for public art is obvious from the vibrant murals and sculptures that celebrate Latino culture all over the city. According to U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro, who represents his native San Antonio and attended the Google Arts & Culture launch event here, “Arts and culture are fundamental to our city and to our society, and we have to make sure that the narrative, the story of San Antonio, its people and the community here is told.”

Local partners on the Google platform include the Briscoe Western Art Museum; Witte Museum, McNay Art Museum, San Antonio Museum of Art; San Antonio Botanical Garden; The Alamo; Ruby City, ArtPace, Blue Star; Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio; San Antonio African-American Community Archive and Museum (SAAACAM); Centro de Artes Gallery, Casa Navarro State Historic Site, The Contemporary at Blue Star, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park (a World Heritage Site), Villa Finale Museum and Gardens and more.

According to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, "Through this innovative and accessible partnership, San Antonio is breaking new ground as the first Texas city to be featured on the Google Arts & Culture platform, opening up endless possibilities for connecting people around the world to the beauty of our city's artistic treasures."

As they say in Texas, c’mon down, y’all!