VR Museum Visits

Hey guys! I hope your week has been treating you well, this past week has been a whirlwind for me, especially as I am doing my best to keep up with news regarding the Leonardo Exhibition that is coming up. It is the quincentennial anniversary of Leonardo’s passing and so the Lourve is putting together a show that focuses specifically on the artist. It will be a huge show as a lot of his works will be in one place at one time.

I wish I could be there for the show!

That being said, as I was looking into the show I saw that the Lourve is putting together a VR tour, mainly for the Mona Lisa.

When I first read this I scoffed, of course, it is hard to see the Mona Lisa when you visit the museum. It isn’t a shocking fact as there are often crowds surrounding the 30-inch painting, but there is also the obstacle of the bulletproof glass that protects the painting. It’s a shame but the glass is necessary to protect the piece and the crowds, well, they’re to be expected.

The VR tour is meant to give the viewer an up-close and “intimate” experience with the painting, however, when reading up on the virtual tour I found that it would be an odd experience as the viewer will have to enter a separate room and place one of eleven headsets on for the seven-minute tour. At one point in the tour it is said that the viewer will “fly over a valley and jagged hills aboard a wing-flapping glider he [Leonardo] sketched.”

There is so much more that goes into this experience and if you want to read up on it I highly suggest reading the New York Times article on it, which I will link below, but I wanted to discuss if this is a good idea?

I understand that the Lourve and it’s curators are being put in a tight spot when it comes to this show and the crowds it will bring about, but this VR experience will in no way substitute seeing the real painting. Not to mention that the additions to the experience, such as flying above valleys, takes away from the flow of the gallery in and of itself. It removes the viewer from what they had already seen and throws them into a completely new environment.

Personally, I think that this is a disappointing response to the complaints of crowds and the glass, the idea of seeing the Mona Lisa in a virtual experience does nothing more than a google image blown up to full screen, or put on a projector, would do. I understand that the Lourve would have detailed images that image searches would not be able to replicate but why travel to the Lourve to see a VR Mona Lisa when the real one is in the same building? Simply wait and slowly move closer to the piece itself.

In the end, it boils down to the curator’s understanding of their museum and show but I was curious as to what others would think about the VR tour? I believe that it is not a real experience of Leonardo’s work, there is an art of its own that goes into setting up a gallery or museum. Careful thought that goes into where each piece is placed and the flow that follows through the viewer’s path, so to drop in a seven-minute virtual experience seems odd to me.

Featured Image and Interesting Article: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/15/arts/design/mona-lisa-vr-louvre.html

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