If you’ve ever wondered what it’d be like to gawp at the Mona Lisa without the experience being mediated by all that bulletproof glass that the safety-conscious curators at the Louvre insist is a necessity, then congratulations – you need no longer worry that your dream will remain just that.
The Parisian museum is gearing itself up to show the planet’s most famous portrait in a whole new way, marking the beginning of a new VR-assisted era in the history of one of the world’s most-visited cultural institutions.
Likely a blockbuster in the making, Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass will allow attendees to get a closer look at the inscrutable and enigmatic sitter, and forms part of a wider show celebrating the life and work of the one and only Leonardo da Vinci.
Artnet reports that “visitors to the Leonardo exhibition will don a VR headset and enter a virtual space where they can step behind the famous painting’s protective glass and interact with it,” but we assume there are limits as to what exactly you can do with the painting once you’ve begun your Viennese waltz with old Mona.
The experience will not be limited to just those art-fans lucky enough to be able to make the pilgrimage to Paris for the show. Anyone with access to a VR headset can join in the fun, thanks to a partnership between the Louvre and virtual reality specialists HTC Vive Arts.
In a statement accompanying the news of the Mona Lisa extravaganza, Vive Arts director Victoria Chang says: “Through this new experience, global audiences will be able to access the Mona Lisa in virtual space, seeing the work in detail from anywhere in the world, allowing visitors who may not be able to visit the exhibition in person to access this remarkable masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci.”
Given that the amount of smartphone-waving visitors hovering by painting means that going to the gallery itself is no guarantee that you’ll actually get to spend any time, let alone the sort of quality time that bulk of the world’s artworks demand, the at-home option might be your best bet when it comes to getting up close and personal with one of civilisation’s most familiar faces.
The show in both its museum and home orientations runs from 24 October – 24 February 2020. In the meantime, why not treat yourself to a rewatch of this Mona Lisa-featuring music video classic courtesy of The Carters….