Google and the National Science and Media Museum are digitizing vast photographic archives

The National Science and Media Museum in Bradford has revealed a new collaboration with the Arts & Culture arm of Google, in a project that digitized tens of thousands of photographs from the Daily Herald archives.

Nearly 50,000 never-before-seen photographs from the photojournalism archive have been digitized, front and back, and form the basis of new online stories, as well as an interactive online “experience” that allows users to create their own edition.

Photographs from the Daily Herald, once the world’s best-selling newspaper, are held by the museum’s Science Museum Group.

The collection contains over 3 million items with prints from news agencies and freelance photographers, as well as work created by Daily Herald staff photographers. The collection also includes 100,000 glass plate negatives and Day Books detailing the assignments assigned to staff photographers.

In addition to being digitized, the photographs in the collection were analyzed by AI and text recognition technology. Image descriptions from the archive were scanned using optical character recognition (OCR) and organized using natural language processing.

The collaborative project adds 100,000 new images and 35,000 new recordings to the Science Museum Group’s online collection. From the photos in the archive, 25 online stories have been published on the Google Arts & Culture platform and 15 new stories will be published on the Museum’s website.
Commenting on the collaboration, Jo Quinton-Tulloch, Director of the National Museum of Science and Media, said: “The Daily Herald Archive is one of the jewels of our collection with over 3 million articles from the newspaper which provide incredible visual history of the first half of the 20th century.

“Through our collaboration with Google Arts & Culture, we can share this remarkable archive more widely and truly bring the collection to life through compelling stories and interactive visualization.”

Amit Sood, Director of Google Arts & Culture, added: “Our collaboration with the National Museum of Science and Media is a fantastic opportunity to explore one of their core collections in new and creative ways. Advances in digitization, combined with algorithmic mining and state-of-the-art AI, allow users to explore a vast archive of photos that captures a unique and captivating snapshot of British life.

The Daily Herald Archive project and experience can be viewed here.

About Carlos V. Mitchell

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