The Mayor of London and Google Arts & Culture celebrate Waltham Forest as inaugural London Borough of Culture

16 January 2020

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Welcome to the Forest Neon Sign
  • Explore online portal of Waltham Forest’s history of innovation and modern diversity

Google Arts & Culture is continuing their partnership with the Mayor of London by launching a new project with the London Borough of Waltham Forest. For the first time, people across the UK and beyond will be able to explore a visual archive of cultural highlights celebrating the breadth of diversity and heritage of this unique area of London. View the online experience at g.co/londonboroughofculture.

This online portal showcases Waltham Forest’s history of innovation, diversity and cultural landscape, with key moments from its successful year as the first London Borough of Culture. Visitors to the archive will be able to learn about Waltham Forest’s rich history and discover the current day borough for themselves. From celebrating community dance programs with choreographer Matthew Bourne to Grade II listed jellied eels, this online exhibition will celebrate the borough’s diverse community.

Some highlights of the new online Google Arts & Culture experience:

  • A brief history of Waltham Forest; origin of the London buses, the home of four museums and one of London’s greenest borough.
  • Profiles of famous previous residents, including footballer David Beckham, musician Damon Albarn and artist Madge Gill. Along with an in-depth look at William Morris, one of Waltham Forest’s most famous sons.
  • Highlights from some of the key events that took place to mark the borough’s year as London Borough of Culture. Some of the highlights included 70,000 visitors attending the opening weekend Welcome to the Forest, 1,500 children making tin toys in Leyton as part of Atomic 50, 100 international musicians coming together to perform to 3,000 people for Africa Express, and a spectacular closing show last weekend with Forest Uprising.

The London Borough of Culture programme was launched by the Mayor of London’s office in 2017, designed to put culture at the heart of local communities, inspire and unleash the potential of young people and bring Londoners together. Waltham Forest’s programme in 2019 included more than 1,000 cultural events, workshops and activities across the year, and involved all 88 schools in the borough.

Amit Sood, Director of Google Arts & Culture: “We’re delighted to be partnering with the Mayor of London and Waltham Forest so everybody can discover more about a fascinating local community that - amongst other things - originated the iconic London buses. Hop on to celebrate the diversity and culture of London boroughs with us."

Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, said: “Culture is in our city’s DNA, and I’m delighted that this pioneering partnership with Google Arts & Culture gives people from all over the capital and beyond access to the inspiring art, music and the rich diversity Waltham Forest has to offer. Waltham Forest’s year as London Borough of Culture was a resounding success, with all ages showcasing their incredible talent through a packed programme that involved every school in the borough and inspired 1,000 people to volunteer to help in their community. This online exhibition captures this wonderful year and is a brilliant opportunity to explore Waltham Forest’s past and present in an exciting new way.”

Cllr Clare Coghill Leader of Waltham Forest Council said: “In 2019 the creative community of Waltham Forest showcased its incredible talent to London and the rest of the world. As the first-ever London Borough of Culture I have seen first-hand the transformative power of the arts and the role it can play in bringing together communities against a backdrop of division and uncertainty. We are excited that this online portal is available to showcase some of the year’s highlights and provide an opportunity to explore the creativity and diverse cultures of the borough.“