The Incredible World of Photography

At Kunstmuseum Basel a huge collection becomes accessible with artificial intelligence.

Kunstmuseum Basel Fotosammlung Vitrine Original Fotographies
Kunstmuseum Basel Interactive AI Installation KI-Installation Ticket Scanning
Kunstmuseum Basel Fotosammlung Ruth und Peter Herzog AI Installation KI-Installation


Museums such as Kunstmuseum Basel are looking for new ways to make their digital collections accessible. The exhibition "The Incredible World of Photography" is a case in point: the 14,000 pictures of the collection of Ruth and Peter Herzog cover almost the entire history of analogue photography in terms of time and subject matter. Naturally, only a selection of original exhibits can be shown on site.


The size of the collection becomes visible on a huge wall projection in the middle of the tour. The entire field of view is covered with photographs. Scanning your museum ticket at one of the two scanning stations, a randomly selected photograph appears in large format. With the help of artificial intelligence, a family of pictures with similar motifs is mapped around this initial image. The algorithm works with image recognition and constantly conjures up new formal relationships.


If a second photograph is scanned, the algorithm merges two image clusters. This creates navigational pathways between motifs from different periods: For example, what is the connection between a portrait photograph from the 1880s and a beach shot from 1950? Or a photographed estate from the 1910s and a statue on a busy square at the same time? Exciting correspondences are created. The media installation thus uses the heterogeneity of the collection to its advantage.


  • 400 original photos on site
  • Approx. 20'000 photos available digitally
  • Artificial intelligence searches collection
  • Formally similar images are grouped
  • Intersection of two image clusters forms a sequence
Kunstmuseum Basel Fotosammlung Herzog Interactive AI-Installation
Kunstmuseum Basel Fotosammlung Herzog KI-Installation Ai-Installation Projektion


The combination of digital archive and physical presentation will become increasingly important in the future. On the one hand, museum collections are growing. On the other hand, the algorithms can also be tailored more precisely and in a more diverse manner to the individual needs of the institution and the exhibition. Our guiding principle is always that the digital archive and physical exhibits, virtual and physical presentation space do not compete with each other, but combine their strengths.

  • Opening


  • Location


  • Client

    Kunstmuseum Basel

  • Partner

    Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Digital Ideation

  • Services

    2D/3D DesignPrototypingSystem DevelopmentSoftware DevelopmentSystem IntegrationProcess ManagementCoordinationElectronics DevelopmentInteraction DesignControlling

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