Museums were quick to embrace the virtual world to continue interacting with art fans in spite of covid-19 restrictions. Now, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art is offering virtual visitors the chance to explore digitally rendered galleries and around 50 works of art from its extensive collection.
Online visitors to "The Met Unframed" are first welcomed into the museum's Great Hall, where they can admire a digital version of "mistikôsiwak: Wooden Boat People" -- the monumental diptych by the Canadian artist, Kent Monkman. From there, they can explore four digital spaces with themes such as "power" and "journey." Here, various works from The Met's collection are digitally displayed, offering an immersive art experience to people who can't necessarily visit the museum in person. The selected artworks include classics such as "The Unicorn Rests in a Garden," from The Met Cloisters' Unicorn Tapestries, and "Wheatfield with Cypresses" by Vincent van Gogh, as well as work by contemporary artists like El Anatsui, Mark Bradford, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Sam Gilliam and Carmen Herrera.
But "The Met Unframed" goes further than many of the digital exhibitions spawned during the pandemic, offering visitors a series of interactive games based on the featured masterpieces. One lets visitors discover the underdrawings and other hidden details of some of the American museum's most well-known paintings, such as "A Girl Asleep" by Johannes Vermeer -- details that would no doubt go unseen during an in-person visit to The Met.
"Our mission since The Met's founding 150 years ago has been to connect people to art and ideas, and to one another -- something we've found to be more powerful than ever over these last months of isolation and uncertainty. 'The Met Unframed' brings the Museum to audiences wherever they are in an innovative viewing experience in which users can virtually visit iconic spaces and engage with The Met's masterpieces, learn more about the works in a playful way through AR, and enjoy bringing the art into one's own surroundings," explains Max Hollein, Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The museum is also giving virtual visitors the chance to play around with augmented reality (AR) versions of the artworks on show, which can be displayed virtually at home. These can be placed around yourself virtually, resized to fit with your furniture, or zoomed in on to see details up close. To momentarily bring The Met's masterpieces into your home, you'll need a 4G- or 5G-compatible smartphone.
"The Met Unframed" is a virtual experience launched in partnership with Verizon, available to visit via a specific website until mid-February.