Microsoft and MAP bring AI-based global platform for art and culture


Microsoft and the Museum of Art and Photography (MAP) have collaborated on artificial intelligence (AI)-powered platform for connecting artworks and culture from across the world. The decision was announced Friday, June 18.

INTERWOVEN, was developed as part of Microsoft’s AI for Cultural Heritage Initiative and taps into MAP’s vast collection of South Asian textiles. The AI for Cultural Heritage Initiative leverages technology to empower people and organizations dedicated to the preservation and enrichment of art and culture.

The program brings together the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rietberg, Zurich and the Royal Ontario Museum, Canada with their vast collection of artistic treasures which help connect the dots between different cultures, mediums and eras. The AI-based platform represents these visually and intuitively, encouraging further exploration, discovery and cross-cultural exchange.

“A primary aspect of our mission is to use the digital realm to connect with people across the country, and the world,” MAP director Kamini Sawhney, said in a statement. “We are rethinking the idea of museums. They cannot be mere repositories of objects. MAP will not just be a collection of objects, but a space for ideas and conversations that are initiated through our collections. INTERWOVEN fits securely within this vision.”

The platform allows the users the option to view predefined journeys, created primarily by MAP’s educational and research arm, the MAP academy.

The AI suggests the relationships between global artifacts which are then researched and expanded further by individual curators and then combined intricately detailing the connections. It is an explorative model for how AI could be used in museology and art historical research.

The users also have the option to explore the platform to stumble upon meaningful and sometimes even surprising visual connections. It provides a new way to engage with culture and learn more about the history of textiles and fashion and their relationship to global exchange.

The earlier projects taken by Microsoft’s AI for Cultural Heritage initiative involved improving accessibility through the Open Access collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the digital restoration of ‘Ancient Olympia’, in collaboration with the government of Greece.

In India, the MAP in Bengaluru is the first project under this initiative.

“It is a project that is deeply impactful to society, culture and heritage. The project interweaves technology with art, using AI to find shared histories in artistic traditions from different corners of the globe, particularly pertaining to something as rich and complex as textiles,” said Rohini Srivathsa, National Technology Officer, Microsoft India.

“Our approach to AI centers around meaningful innovation and this project beautifully allows art to be more accessible and inclusive for people around the world. We stay committed to using technology to help celebrate and preserve culture as part of our new initiative,” she added.