Author Archives: Simon Rein

How machine learning revived long lost masterpieces by Klimt

Few artists enjoy such worldwide fame as Gustav Klimt. The new Google Arts & Culture online retrospective "Klimt vs. Klimt - The Man of Contradictions" puts the spotlight on the artist's eclectic work and life. A Machine Learning experiment recolored photographs of lost Klimt paintings, while a “Pocket Gallery” brings some of his most iconic works into your living room in augmented reality and 3D. Together with more than 120 stories about his art and personality, a virtual tour of his studio, and many more highlights from the collections of over 30 cultural institutions around the world, "Klimt vs. Klimt" forms one of the most comprehensive online experiences about the artist.

Klimt’s legacy poses many unsolved questions, not least due to the fact that approximately 20% of his artworks were lost over the course of history. Among the most prominent and painful losses are the so-called Faculty Paintings, created on behalf of the University of Vienna and rejected by the latter for being overly critical towards science. In 1945, only days before the Second World War ended, the paintings were lost to a fire at Immendorf Castle in Austria. What these major works looked like could only be guessed at from black and white photographs taken in the early 1900s, unable were they to convey the magic that makes Klimt’s artworks so captivating — the bold colours, the revolutionary approach to textures, the shocking directness of his figures. Until today.

Using the opportunities offered by machine learning, enhanced by the knowledge of internationally renowned Klimt expert and curator at the Belvedere, Dr. Franz Smola, the team at the Google Arts & Culture Lab was able to reconstruct the colours that Klimt might have used for the Faculty Paintings, thus restoring them to their fully colored beauty. For the first time in 70 years, people can experience his artworks in the colors he might have used.

Experience the art of Klimt in new ways online

The paintings are the true centerpiece of “Klimt vs. Klimt”. The retrospective brings together more than 120 of the artist’s most famous masterpieces, as well as lesser known works, and assembles an expertly curated selection in an immersive Pocket Gallery that you can experience in augmented reality on mobile or in 3D on web. This was made possible thanks to a collaboration between Google Arts & Culture and over 30 partners and institutions - with the Belvedere, the Albertina, the Klimt Foundation, the Neue Galerie New York and the Metropolitan Museum of Arts among them. Over 60 masterworks by Klimt have also been captured in ultra high resolution with Google’s Art Camera. Come in closer to see “The Kiss” like never before!

Klimt expert Dr. Franz Smola

Meet the expert — Dr. Franz Smola


While creating “Klimt vs. Klimt” the Google Arts & Culture team was advised and guided by Dr. Franz Smola, curator at the Belvedere and acknowledged around the world as one of the foremost Klimt experts. He shared some of his thoughts on working on the project:

Why are Klimt’s Faculty Paintings so important?

Klimt´s three Faculty Paintings were among the largest artworks Klimt ever created and in the field of Symbolist painting they represent Klimt’s masterpieces.

What do you think about the recolored versions?

The colors were essential for the overwhelming effect of these paintings, and they caused quite a stir among Klimt´s contemporaries. Therefore the reconstruction of the colors is synonymous with recognizing the true value and significance of these outstanding artworks.

Is there something the digital presentation adds to how Klimt and his artworks can be perceived?

I am deeply impressed by the fantastic images taken with Google’s Art Camera. They allow you to really explore a work of art, to jump into its texture and color application and to discover every detail in the easiest way possible. I also like how technology allows ideas to come to life that have always been merely hypothetical — I am thinking of the Pocket Gallery we created, which contains a highlight selection of Klimt’s paintings including some of which were lost.

If Klimt was still alive - how do you think he would engage with digital technologies?

Klimt was a highly visual figure. He rarely commented on his work, rather inviting people to look at the work alone and draw their own conclusions. The “Klimt vs. Klimt” project primarily uses visual, non-verbal tools to convey Klimt’s work, which is very much in line with Klimt’s character. Klimt liked to lead a rather secluded life within the walls of his studio, to which only a few had access. I am certain he would have liked the idea of jumping from this remote and quiet place into the World Wide Web, having access to millions of artworks and seeing his art distributed and communicated around the world.

To explore “Klimt vs. Klimt - The Man of Contradictions” visit g.co/klimtvsklimt or download the free Google Arts & Culture app for iOS or Android.

Music, Makers & Machines

In 1895, Thaddeus Cahill, an inventor from Iowa, started work on the world’s first electromechanical musical instrument. Weighing in at 200 tons and measuring 60 feet long, the Telharmonium was a colossal machine for producing and sharing music on the telephone.


In the 126 years since, electronic music has evolved in similarly bold and ingenious ways, a testament to the magic that occurs when human beings build and interact with machines. We listen to it while working out, riding the subway, studying for exams — and hopefully soon again at the clubs and festivals that have made it what it is today.


Music, Makers & Machines, the new exhibit from Google Arts & Culture and YouTube, celebrates the history of electronic music: its inventors, artists, sounds and technology. More than 50 international institutions, record labels, festivals and industry experts have come together to capture the crucial role electronic music plays within wider culture, from the WDR Studio for Electronic Music to Blacktronika to the “Diva of the Diodes” Suzanne Ciani. There are more than 250 online exhibitions, an extensive archive of photos, videos, 360° tours and 3D-scanned objects, including synthesizers and the door of Berlin’s legendary Tresor techno club.


In the spirit of pioneers like Cahill, you can also compose your own electronic music. Use the augmented reality feature of AR Synth to mix and match five famous synthesizers in a virtual electronic music studio.


MUSIC: Let’s get to know some of the legendary tracks and artists:

MAKERS: Go behind the scenes in studios and see iconic inventors in action:

MACHINES: Play with the instruments that made the tunes: 


Electronic music brings people together from all walks of life and from all over the world. Its community has always been one of creativity and shared experiences. And while it may take a while until club doors open again, fans and musicians keep connected through new online forums and formats.


We hope that Music, Makers & Machines will let you explore and appreciate the stories of electronic music and celebrate the creativity of its makers. Find the project on the Google Arts & Culture app for iOS and Android and at g.co/musicmakersmachines .

Dive into Diwali at home with Google Arts & Culture

Every autumn, millions of people around the world come together for firework displays, feasts, prayer, and festivities in celebration of Diwali—the festival of lights. Millions of clay lamps illuminate homes and public spaces. Floors are covered with cheerful rangolis to bring good luck. With the food, family and festivities, Diwali is all about the experience of coming together, and the vibrant spectacle of color and light, but the global pandemic changes how we celebrate this year. Google Arts & Culture has created a virtual Diwali experience that everyone can be a part of, wherever you are in the world.

Diwali AR GIF

Festive lights in Augmented Reality

To recreate some festival fervor, try out a new Augmented Reality experience. Decorate your space virtually with diyas (lamps), detonate virtual anar (firecrackers), for some explosive, playful fun, and to learn more about these important cultural traditions.

Dive into Diwali from home

Google Arts & Culture has partnered with over 20 cultural heritage organisations to launch Diwali @ Home. Striking images and immersive online stories weave a journey through the festival of lights, its legends and folklore, and dive into the sights, sounds and smells of an iconic festival.

The color, food, festivities and nostalgia of Diwali are shared through new online exhibitions from partner institutions including Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Indian Museum, National Museum and many more.

Interactive art coloring book for family fun

There’s also plenty of hands-on fun for families with interactive coloring books—in artworks inspired by traditional Indian paintings in a specially developed coloring book! Find it with Google Search, simply by searching for “Diwali” on your phone.


Lady Lighting a Lamp from the collection of Salar Jung Museum, and a page from the interactive Diwali art coloring book

Lady Lighting a Lamp from the collection of Salar Jung Museum, and a page from the interactive Diwali art coloring book

Finally, watch a video conversation between Amish Tripathi, author and Director of The Nehru Centre, and art historian broadcaster and former museum director Neil MacGregor on Diwali and why it’s particularly special this year.

So, with the help of a little Google magic, we hope our Diwali @ Home experience adds to your festive cheer as you celebrate in your own way this year, on the Google Arts & Culture app foriOS andAndroid.

India’s mini-masterpieces brought to life with AI and AR

Miniature paintings are among the most beautiful, most technically-advanced and most sophisticated art forms in Indian culture. Though compact (about the same size as a small book), they typically tackle profound themes such as love, power and faith. Using technologies like machine learning, augmented reality and high-definition robotic cameras, Google Arts & Culture has partnered with the National Museum in New Delhi to showcase these special works of art in a magical new way.

Virtually wander the halls of a pocket gallery

Inspired by the domes and doorways that punctuate Indian homes and public spaces, this is the first AR-powered art gallery designed with traditional Indian architecture. Using your smartphone, you can open up a life-size virtual space, walk around at your leisure and zoom into your favorite pieces—you have this beautiful museum to yourself!

Domes and doorways

The first AR-powered art gallery inspired by the domes and doorways of India.

Art meets AI, with Magnify Miniatures

Miniatures are rich in detailed representations of topics that have shaped Indian culture. Thanks to machine learning, you can now discover these attributes across a collection of miniature paintings. Select from tags like ‘face’, ‘animal’, or even ‘moustache’, and see where these features occur!

Take a closer look with immersive in-painting tours 

Art Camera, our ultra-high-resolution robotic camera, was deployed to produce the most vivid images of masterpieces ever seen. Using these images, we’ve created over 75 in-painting tours to help you stop and appreciate details like wisps of smoke from firecrackers, or see the finesse and variety of every person’s attire in this royal procession—flourishes that you wouldn’t be able to see well with the naked eye.

Art camera

You can zoom in to see the wisps of smoke in this miniature titled "Lady Holding a Sparkler"

Explore thousands of rich stories and images 

The virtual collection includes 1,200 high resolution images from 25 collections all around the world and more than 75 stories, depicting scenes that include legendary marriage processions, the joy of being among nature, or epic battles. Curious minds, students and families will find playful and educational ways to enjoy the world of Indian miniatures, such as an interactive coloring book

We’re glad that through the power of technology, people all over the world can engage with these miniature masterpieces like never before.


Discover India through its crafts

Crafts are an essential part of India’s rural economy and also play an important role in India’s history and communities across the country today. Expanding our partnership with India’s Ministry of Tourism, we’re launching “Crafted in India” on Google Arts & Culture, so more people from around the world can discover the beauty and heritage of crafts from all 29 states of India. We spoke to Jaya Jaitly, the President of our partner institution Dastkari Haat Samiti, who traveled around the country for two years to document and preserve the items in the exhibition.

Tell us a bit more about yourself and your work in India.
I spent some years of my childhood in Japan, where I became a lover of art, crafts and textiles. I also have a passion for social activism, so it was a natural fit to explore the traditions of my home country India through these guiding principles—showcasing not just the crafts themselves, but how they lift up the economic and social status of the craft-makers. By documenting their work I strive to promote their culture and show how their designs and skills suit a contemporary and ever-changing world.

Why a project about crafts from India?
I was very excited when we got an opportunity to use the platform that Google Arts & Culture has created to show the world our craft creators. They have amazing skills, great resilience and work closely with their communities and environment. There is so much to discover, like how you can craft paper from the most unexpected materials, like pineapple fibres, old currency, or animal dung.

What aspect of Indian crafts did you capture and discover?
I hope we have captured the fantastic diversity of India’s crafts. Our stories show many different lifestyles, languages, communities, identities, styles of dress and traditions that India has nurtured over centuries. I am especially proud of the stories in the exhibition that show the strong role of women.

Working on the project, is there anything in particular that surprised you?
Living in urban India and familiar with many kinds of lifestyles all over the world, I was fascinated to discover how many of our craftspeople hold on to old practices and techniques despite the laborious processes involved. Their versatility in adapting to new materials, audiences and customers showed their sense of pride in their heritage.

How do crafts define the people and the culture of India? What can you learn about India through its crafts?
India is now prominent on all sorts of platforms across the world. And craft, in all its varieties, is one of the strongest crucibles of India’s culture. It can be at the center of developing our rural economy, sustaining our planet and promoting our diverse people and livelihoods. I also hope it will encourage people who enjoy the exhibition to come to India and engage with it more closely—this is just a small peek at the vast treasure chest on offer.

Start the Lunar New Year with Google Arts & Culture

Today marks the start of the Lunar New Year—we’ve entered the Year of the Rooster.

lunar-new-year-2017-5686481707335680-hp2x.jpg

Across Asia and around the world, families are coming together, houses and neighborhoods are being dressed up in red and traditional lanterns are being hung. If you're still wondering about what the fireworks are all about, Google Arts & Culture is here to help you learn more about this centuries-old tradition.

Celebrate Lunar New Year with Google Arts & Culture

Celebrate Lunar New Year with Google Arts & Culture

Google Arts & Culture teamed up with 12 museums from Beijing to Washington to create a new online exhibition, so everyone can discover the craftsmanship and arts that make this holiday so colorful. Follow the zodiac animals across 1,000 years of art history, learn about the art of the New Year prints with which people decorate their homes, or find out how to give and accept a traditional red envelope.

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The exhibition is available for everyone online and through the Google Arts & Culture mobile app on iOS and Android. And if you follow us on Instagram, you can join the celebrations and learn how to create lanterns or fold a pretty paper rooster to celebrate Lunar New Year.

May the Year of the Rooster be a great one for you all!

Start the Lunar New Year with Google Arts & Culture

Today marks the start of the Lunar New Year—we’ve entered the Year of the Rooster.

lunar-new-year-2017-5686481707335680-hp2x.jpg

Across Asia and around the world, families are coming together, houses and neighborhoods are being dressed up in red and traditional lanterns are being hung. If you're still wondering about what the fireworks are all about, Google Arts & Culture is here to help you learn more about this centuries-old tradition.

Celebrate Lunar New Year with Google Arts & Culture

Celebrate Lunar New Year with Google Arts & Culture

Google Arts & Culture teamed up with 12 museums from Beijing to Washington to create a new online exhibition, so everyone can discover the craftsmanship and arts that make this holiday so colorful. Follow the zodiac animals across 1,000 years of art history, learn about the art of the New Year prints with which people decorate their homes, or find out how to give and accept a traditional red envelope.

SNAP-33-800px.gif

The exhibition is available for everyone online and through the Google Arts & Culture mobile app on iOS and Android. And if you follow us on Instagram, you can join the celebrations and learn how to create lanterns or fold a pretty paper rooster to celebrate Lunar New Year.

May the Year of the Rooster be a great one for you all!

The opening concert of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg live and in 360°

To mark Wednesday's opening of the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie concert hall, Google Arts & Culture will bring viewers a celebratory performance streamed on YouTube starting at 6:30 pm CET.  Under the direction of Thomas Hengelbrock, the NDR Elbphilharmonie orchestra will perform with top-class soloists  Philippe Jaroussky and Camilla Tilling.

In addition to the livestream the use of 360° cameras will bring the concert to life for anyone who was not able to get their hands on one of the much-sought-after tickets to the opening performance. These specialized cameras allow each and every viewer to customise their own perspective within the YouTube window in their browser. You can watch this on YouTube,  and for a fully immersive experience, you can put on a Google Cardboard headset too. We’re inviting anyone in Hamburg to grab a cardboard free of charge at the visitor center of the Elbphilharmonie!

For a first glimpse of the Elbphilharmonie in 360 check out this video to see the Techno Marching Band “Meute“ , talented parkour-runners and the young German string player ensemble “ensemble reflektor“ explore the concert hall.

In November the Elbphilharmonie welcomed viewers inside for the first time, offering a peek into the then-unopened concert hall and the Plaza’s panoramic view over the Hamburg harbour on Google Street View. Google Arts & Culture features a rich collection of photos, videos and historic documents including corresponding online exhibitions that offer a unique look into the history and architecture of Hamburg’s newest landmark. The collection has been updated for opening day at g.co/elbphilharmonie or via the mobile app of Google Arts & Culture available to download on iOS and Android.

Elbphilharmonie behind the scenes
Capture of 360° material behind the scenes of Elbphilharmonie

The online exhibition “Backstage at the Elbphilharmonie “ invites visitors into the rehearsal room of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra whilst another demonstrates the architectural beauty of the building through the lense of Iwan Baan. It was very important to us that we not only make the Elbphilharmonie center stage, but also its people. Elbphilharmonie Ensemble in Residence accompanies the “Ensemble Resonanz” on the way from its first artistic rehearsal the the Elbphilharmonie-Kaispeicher to its move into the smaller hall of the concert house.

Elbphilharmonie

We wish our partner the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg a hearty congratulations on opening day and a successful start into the musical year of 2017. And to viewers everywhere: we hope you enjoy watching the YouTube livestream of the opening concert tonight and that you explore the many stories behind Hamburg’s new landmark on Google Arts & Culture.

The opening concert of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg live and in 360°

To mark Wednesday's opening of the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie concert hall, Google Arts & Culture will bring viewers a celebratory performance streamed on YouTube starting at 6:30 pm CET.  Under the direction of Thomas Hengelbrock, the NDR Elbphilharmonie orchestra will perform with top-class soloists  Philippe Jaroussky and Camilla Tilling.

In addition to the livestream the use of 360° cameras will bring the concert to life for anyone who was not able to get their hands on one of the much-sought-after tickets to the opening performance. These specialized cameras allow each and every viewer to customise their own perspective within the YouTube window in their browser. You can watch this on YouTube,  and for a fully immersive experience, you can put on a Google Cardboard headset too. We’re inviting anyone in Hamburg to grab a cardboard free of charge at the visitor center of the Elbphilharmonie!

For a first glimpse of the Elbphilharmonie in 360 check out this video to see the Techno Marching Band “Meute“ , talented parkour-runners and the young German string player ensemble “ensemble reflektor“ explore the concert hall.

In November the Elbphilharmonie welcomed viewers inside for the first time, offering a peek into the then-unopened concert hall and the Plaza’s panoramic view over the Hamburg harbour on Google Street View. Google Arts & Culture features a rich collection of photos, videos and historic documents including corresponding online exhibitions that offer a unique look into the history and architecture of Hamburg’s newest landmark. The collection has been updated for opening day at g.co/elbphilharmonie or via the mobile app of Google Arts & Culture available to download on iOS and Android.

Elbphilharmonie behind the scenes
Capture of 360° material behind the scenes of Elbphilharmonie

The online exhibition “Backstage at the Elbphilharmonie “ invites visitors into the rehearsal room of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra whilst another demonstrates the architectural beauty of the building through the lense of Iwan Baan. It was very important to us that we not only make the Elbphilharmonie center stage, but also its people. Elbphilharmonie Ensemble in Residence accompanies the “Ensemble Resonanz” on the way from its first artistic rehearsal the the Elbphilharmonie-Kaispeicher to its move into the smaller hall of the concert house.

Elbphilharmonie

We wish our partner the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg a hearty congratulations on opening day and a successful start into the musical year of 2017. And to viewers everywhere: we hope you enjoy watching the YouTube livestream of the opening concert tonight and that you explore the many stories behind Hamburg’s new landmark on Google Arts & Culture.

The opening concert of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg live and in 360°

To mark Wednesday's opening of the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie concert hall, Google Arts & Culture will bring viewers a celebratory performance streamed on YouTube starting at 6:30 pm CET.  Under the direction of Thomas Hengelbrock, the NDR Elbphilharmonie orchestra will perform with top-class soloists  Philippe Jaroussky and Camilla Tilling.

In addition to the livestream the use of 360° cameras will bring the concert to life for anyone who was not able to get their hands on one of the much-sought-after tickets to the opening performance. These specialized cameras allow each and every viewer to customise their own perspective within the YouTube window in their browser. You can watch this on YouTube,  and for a fully immersive experience, you can put on a Google Cardboard headset too. We’re inviting anyone in Hamburg to grab a cardboard free of charge at the visitor center of the Elbphilharmonie!

For a first glimpse of the Elbphilharmonie in 360 check out this video to see the Techno Marching Band “Meute“ , talented parkour-runners and the young German string player ensemble “ensemble reflektor“ explore the concert hall.

In November the Elbphilharmonie welcomed viewers inside for the first time, offering a peek into the then-unopened concert hall and the Plaza’s panoramic view over the Hamburg harbour on Google Street View. Google Arts & Culture features a rich collection of photos, videos and historic documents including corresponding online exhibitions that offer a unique look into the history and architecture of Hamburg’s newest landmark. The collection has been updated for opening day at g.co/elbphilharmonie or via the mobile app of Google Arts & Culture available to download on iOS and Android.

Elbphilharmonie behind the scenes
Capture of 360° material behind the scenes of Elbphilharmonie

The online exhibition “Backstage at the Elbphilharmonie “ invites visitors into the rehearsal room of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra whilst another demonstrates the architectural beauty of the building through the lense of Iwan Baan. It was very important to us that we not only make the Elbphilharmonie center stage, but also its people. Elbphilharmonie Ensemble in Residence accompanies the “Ensemble Resonanz” on the way from its first artistic rehearsal the the Elbphilharmonie-Kaispeicher to its move into the smaller hall of the concert house.

Elbphilharmonie

We wish our partner the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg a hearty congratulations on opening day and a successful start into the musical year of 2017. And to viewers everywhere: we hope you enjoy watching the YouTube livestream of the opening concert tonight and that you explore the many stories behind Hamburg’s new landmark on Google Arts & Culture.