A new virtual exhibition traces the history of electronic music

Hosted online through Google Arts & Culture, the collection combines archival material and digital tools to spotlight the pioneers, evolution and legacy of electronic music

Google’s arts platform Google Arts & Culture has launched a permanent interactive collection that traces the history and legacy of electronic music and its place in shaping technology, movements and wider culture. The virtual exhibition, titled Music, Makers & Machines, involves over 50 international cultural partners across 15 countries, from industry experts and pioneers to labels, festivals and institutions.

The collection is vast and multifaceted, with over 13,000 archival photo and video assets, 200 online exhibitions, 360 degree tours of museums and studios, alongside editorial features covering the sounds and scenes that exist around the world.

Alongside educational content that covers the technical origins of synthesisers, Music, Makers & Machines also has playful elements, from 3D scans of equipment (plus the entrance door of Berlin nightclub Tresor) to AR tools that allow people to play around with a selection of iconic synths and sequencers.

Crucially, the exhibition brings to light the female, Black and queer pioneers and innovators of the field, whose stories have often been overlooked as electronic music burrows further into the mainstream, and examines how it has spawned genres such as dubstep and grime.

The collection looks at well known venues like Berghain in Berlin and Manchester’s Factory Records as well as the nightclubs that have been lost. With the pre-existing battle to keep nightlife spaces open compounded by the pandemic, it’s a pleasure to see such an broad compendium on electronic music. While people await the return to live venues and clubs, there’s plenty for novices, club-goers and audiophiles alike to sink their teeth into.

© Suzanne Ciani
Fairlight CMI. Image: Bob Moog Foundation
Volker Müller, WDR
Clubbers posing for the camera, 1996 © Tristan O’Neill, Museum of Youth Culture
Raver at Tresor Berlin in the 1990s. Image: Groove Magazine