The New York Times
+ Google Cloud

Google Cloud and The New York Times recently partnered to preserve over 100 years of visual history. To celebrate this collaboration, Instrument crafted an immersive storytelling experience showcasing how Cloud technology can bring new life to an archive of eight million forgotten photographs. 

Unlocking History

For the past century, the New York Times has been storing its photographs three floors below street level in a space affectionately nicknamed ‘The Morgue.’ Finding a single photograph in this collection of eight million images was always a manual and time-consuming process—with the exception of the archive caretakers, many of these photos have not been seen by other eyes in years.

For journalists to be able to explore these forgotten, historic photos from fresh perspectives, the Times is using Google Cloud to transform the Times’ photo archive that documents over 100 years of history into a searchable digital resource with valuable visual information and associated data. As partners engaged to highlight this project, we sought to make an experience of discovery.

Demystifying the cloud

Inspired ourselves by a very small selection of the historic photographs, we dove into the incredible web of history, writing stories based on small details found in the images. Since Google Cloud technologies, from secure storage to Cloud Vision API, will be able to aid in discovering information and sparking insights, we brought the photos to new life with this newly contextualized data in deep-dive interactive stories. 

We created an immersive desktop and mobile AR experience inviting users to picture how tools like Vision API and ML are helping to uncover patterns and hidden connections within these photos. Each photo takes the user on a captivating deep dive into a series of untold stories; uncovering new meanings, and even new truths.

“To add a sense of discovery and curiosity to the experience we wanted to place the user in the shoes of a journalist; digging through the archives and uncovering stories previously untold.”


Jack De Caluwé – Creative Director at Instrument (2018)

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The Big Picture

The campaign also celebrated the partnership between Google Cloud and The New York Times across AR-enabled posters and billboards installed around New York City. Like the newspaper inserts, people could easily unlock the corresponding digital experience directly from their copy of The New York Times.

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Role: Creative Director
Agency: Instrument