Google Cloud + NYT

To preserve over 100 years of visual history, Google Cloud and The New York Times partnered to digitally catalogue The Times’ photo archive. To celebrate this effort, Instrument created an immersive experience that showcases how cloud technology can assist in telling millions of untold stories.

History unlocked

For the past century, The New York Times has been storing its photo archives 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 a handful of archive caretakers, many of these photos have not been seen in years. Bringing the archive to the cloud not only makes the archives easier to access, it exposes the photographs to tools and data that can unlock the hidden and forgotten stories found within them.

Inspired by the potential of the Cloud, we created a rich storytelling experience around a selection of photographs from the archive. With the help of Google technologies like the Cloud Vision API and the myriad of available data sets available in the cloud, we were able to reveal and tell varied and in-depth stories hidden within each photograph.

We created a mobile image recognition and AR experience. To provide access to the broadest user-base, we used only web technologies. After following a URL, users could point their camera to one of the ads or pull-out inserts featured in numerous editions of the Times. Through their camera they could identify key features of the image before being sent to the web site for a deep dive into the stories.

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 CaluwéCreative Director at Instrument
Collage with physical archived photos and the digital immersive experience that connects them now.

The bigger 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 via their phones.

With this new Google Cloud partnership, The New York Times will ensure these photos continue to serve as a rich resource for their journalists to bring life to stories new and old. Check out the experience at For more insight into the development of this project, check out the technical case study.

Our Roles


  • Technical Strategy
  • Systems Architecture
  • Deployment Architecture
  • Front-end Development
  • Back-end Development
  • Augmented Reality


  • UX Strategy
  • Information Architecture
  • Content Strategy
  • Launch Planning


  • Story research
  • Editorial writing
  • Copywriting
  • Motion Video Direction
  • Motion Video Production
  • Post Production
  • Sound design


  • UX / UI Design
  • Art Direction
  • Visual Design
  • Creative Direction
  • Motion Design

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