The Met x Microsoft x MIT: exploring art through AI

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Microsoft, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have partnered to imagine new ways for audiences to engage with art through artificial intelligence.

The result of the collaboration is a portfolio of prototypes, in various stages of development, each of which explores the relationship between artificial intelligence and art.

Max Hollein, Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, said: “The Met’s vast collection covers 5,000 years of art and culture from around the world, and it is our mission to create multiple means for people to engage with this remarkable resource, both onsite and online. This exciting collaboration with Microsoft and MIT demonstrates the potential of open data and artificial intelligence to digitally broaden access to hundreds of thousands of images and scholarly records, and demonstrates the continually expanding impact of the Open Access Program.”

Curators, designers, AI researchers, open learning specialists and creative technologists were able to search the collection based on a new subject keywords dataset. The museum revealed the prototypes they came up with on February 4th.

Mitra Azizirad, Corporate Vice President, AI Marketing at Microsoft, said: “What makes us uniquely human is our ability to express our experiences and culture through art. The Met has done an incredible job of preserving and broadening access to their rich collection of artifacts. We are excited by the role AI can play to provide everyone the opportunity to discover and experience this great trove of art in entirely new ways. The close partnership between The Met, MIT, and Microsoft is a great example of how AI is empowering curators and technologists to make art and human history accessible and relevant to everyone on the planet.”

Sanjay Sarma, Vice President for Open Learning at MIT, said: “MIT shares The Met’s commitment to open access, paired with the power of Microsoft AI, in order to empower people globally to create new knowledge and ways of experiencing art and culture that are so vital to our humanity.”

Art and tech

Last year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art partnered with search engine giant Google to launch a new API (Application Programming Interface) for the collection that allows users to connect to 406,000 images without copyright or restriction.

It also meant that Google could use the images in its “knowledge graph” – the tool that allows Google to answer natural language questions with a box of information.

Art fixtures are often driven by immersive technologies, allowing them tobecome popular visitor attractions.

Earlier this year, a 35,000 square foot art park called Wisdome opened in the Arts Districtin downtown Los Angeles. Dubbed the world’s first fully immersive art park, the location includes five fully immersive, 360-degree domes fitted with 10.1 surround sound.

There were also a number of VR and AR fixtures at Sundance’s New Frontier.