Tate & Minecraft Build Game Virtual Art Collaboration

Who hasn’t dreamed of stepping inside a painting and exploring its world?


A new art/gaming alliance will now make that dream possible.


In an unlikely creatively partnership between the UK’s Tate Gallery and the construction game Minecraft has resulted in ‘Tate Worlds: Art Re-imagined For Minecraft’ – a set of Minecraft ‘maps’ that present virtual environments inspired by artworks from Tate’s collection.


These maps enable Minecraft players to explore a range of digitally re-interpreted paintings and sculptures and to interact with activities and challenges that relate to the themes of the artworks.


The alliance sees the Tate team up with some of Minecraft’s best mapmakers to create these virtual artworks – the collaborations beds art, education, history, adventure and gaming.


Online visitors/gamers initially see a white block cube representing the Tate Gallery and then are able to walk through a door in the cube, walk up to the painting and jump right into it.



The first two maps in the collaboration series went online and were available to download from 24 November and are built around two Tate works themed around ‘cities’: Andre Derain’s 1906 painting ‘The Pool of London’ and Christopher Nevinson’s 1920 painting of New York ‘Soul of the Soulless City’.


The initiative enables art fans to interact with the painting’s world: for example they can ride a train to get a passing cityscape view, or stop for sandwiches with builders as they take a break from building skyscrapers.


‘You explore activities and challenges that relate to the themes of the artwork. It’s art, history and adventure,’ says Jane Burton (head of content and creative director for Tate Media).


Six more maps based on artworks – revolving around the themes of ‘play’, ‘Destruction’ and ‘Fantasy’ – will be released in 2015 and will include John Singer Sargent’s ‘Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose’ (1885-6), Peter Blake’s ‘The Toy Shop’ (1962), John Martin’s ‘The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum’ (1822) and Cornelia Parker’s ‘Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View’ (1991).


Minecraft, a game originally invented in Sweden and which allows players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D procedurally generated world and then explore them, gather resources, craft and combat within them)


The idea came from artist and well-known Minecraft creator Adam Clarke (of Common People) who entered the concept into the Tate’s IK Prize – which is awarded to an idea that uses digital technology to engage people with the arts.


The winners are then given the opportunity to turn their idea into a reality in collaboration with Tate.


The collaboration then enlisted the skills of other celebrity Minecraft builders including Dragnoz, Kupo, Featherblade and Tewkesape to create the worlds that are inspired by the artworks.




Virtual galleries are, of course, nothing new in themselves.


Neither are innovative collaborations between art galleries and tech companies.


But most of these in the past have been enabling collaborations rather in-depth, interactive creative experiences that stand independently in their own right as digital artworks.


Most sponsorship and partnerships aim to bring the fans closer to the property and enhance the experience, but this collaboration actually creates a new, related property itself.


But this partnership certainly introduces a new perspective on art engagement and youth-appeal.


Whether exhibiting celebrated artworks in 3D digital gaming form is a good way to appreciate art is certainly open to debate, but by collaborating with a huge hit game like Minecraft certainly has the potential to broaden the Tate’s reach and engage with a younger demographic.


After all, as of October 2014 nearly 54 million copies of the game had been sold across all gaming platforms – making it one of the best selling video games of all time.


In September Microsoft announced a £2.5bn deal to buy Minecraft developer Mojang – thus granted the software giant ownership of the game’s IP.




Tate Worlds


Tate YouTube


The Pool Of London YouTube


The Common People Website


Minecraft Website


Featured Showcases