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By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A decision has been made to digitally preserve Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove in Osun State. A tech giant, Google Arts & Culture, has worked with some organizations to put the sanctuary’s content into digital format.

Other Google partner organizations are Adunni Olorisha Trust and CyArk.

In a statement, it was revealed that the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove project could be explored via goo.gle/osun-osogbo.

Highlights include a 75ha street view of Osun Osogbo’s sacred grove, including Busanyin Shrine before it was affected by flooding, and 3D models of four of the site’s dynamic shrines.

The collection allows viewing of 900 high-resolution photographs of the site, contemporary and historical artworks and sculptures, artists and spiritual leaders. It also tells 28 stories about art, community and spirituality at Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove and the effect of climate change on the site and includes three audio interviews, including one with popular artist Jimoh Buraimoh about Susanna Wenger.

This first and largest digital library featuring the Sacred Grove of Osun Osogbo is part of Google Arts and Culture’s larger Heritage on the Edge project.

The project aims to help site managers digitally document heritage sites threatened by climate change, using the captured images to further support community maintenance and conservation.

It allows visitors to watch 27 video interviews and see aerial views and 3D views of the site, while annotated 3D tours of Busanyin and Iya Moopo shrines showcase the legacy of art and spirituality in the sacred grove .

“Google Arts & Culture’s mission is to preserve and promote the art and culture of the online world, enabling anyone, anywhere to share it.

“We are grateful that, through partnerships, we are now able to preserve one of the most recognized and culturally rich Yoruba heritage sites known for its active traditional worship and art movements. contemporary,” said Chance Coughenour, Program Manager and Digital Archaeologist, Google Arts & Culture.

“Through the use of advanced technologies, site managers will be able to monitor and mitigate the effects of climate change and, more broadly, provide resources to support increased site preservation capacity. heritage,” Coughenour added.

Located on the forested banks of the Osun River in the city of Osogbo, Osun State, the Sacred Grove of Osun Osogbo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is centuries old and among the last sacred groves of their kind that join the edges of most Yoruba towns before the massive shift from rural to urban areas.

On the site, Yoruba deities are embodied in sculpted and shapely shrines where creativity and spirituality come to life. Recently, the grove has been threatened with destruction due to floods, heavy rains and climate change. Busanyin Shrine was damaged by flooding soon after it was digitally captured.

“The Yoruba community is one of the largest in Nigeria, and Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove is truly a unique and special place that embodies the essence of Yoruba culture and heritage.

“We are delighted with the digital preservation of the site and the partnership with Google Arts & Culture. It offers a body of remarkable works that portray the admirable culture of the Yoruba people to the world,” says Olufemi A. Akinsanya Akinsanya, President of Save Our Art!Save Our Heritage!Campaign.

“CyArk’s work in Osogbo has been a true collaboration between Nigerian government officials, local NGOs, the Osogbo community and His Royal Highness Jimoh Oyetunji Olanipekun Larooye II, who are all working together to share the stories of Osogbo with a wider audience,” says Kacey Hadick, Director of Programs and Development, CyArk.

Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, said: “I am really delighted that, for the first time, Osun Osogbo Grove has gone live, thanks to Google Arts and Culture, who partnered with CyArk and the Adunni. Olorisa Trust/Osun Foundation to digitize the shrine and its surroundings, thereby protecting both for posterity.

“I said during the visit to the grove in 2019 that it was important to refocus national and global attention on this World Heritage Site, and I am happy that we have achieved our goal, as evidenced by this project of digitization of the sanctuary and its surroundings.. I would like to sincerely congratulate all the partners for this monumental work,” he added.

Through past projects like Taste of Nigeria and Eko for Show, Google Arts and Culture has helped people around the world learn about Nigeria’s heritage and history. The launch of the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove project allows new local and international audiences to learn about its past, present and future, furthering Google’s commitment to preserving Nigeria’s cultural heritage.

Google Arts & Culture is available for free to anyone on the web or through the Arts & Culture app on iOS and Android. Google Arts & Culture is a new way to experience the art, history, culture, and wonders of the world from over 1,000 organizations around the world.

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