With NFTs taking the art world by storm, it’s a bit refreshing to know that you can enjoy world-renowned masterpieces in the comfort of your own home via augmented reality without emptying your cryptocurrency wallet.
And that’s what you get with the Google Arts & Culture app, which adds three new Pocket Galleries of world-famous masterpieces, one of which mimics guided tours of real museums.
This week, the Google Arts & Culture team introduced Pocket Galleries featuring works from the Jean Pigozi Collection, featuring 40 works by African and Japanese artists, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, highlighting 200 years of art history by the likes of Henri Rousseau, Jean-Antoine Watteau and Gerrit van Honthorst.
“These treasures are often loaned to museums around the world, but have never had their own building until now, making this Pocket Gallery a truly unique space,” said Michelle Luo, product manager for Google Arts & Culture, in a statement.
The third gallery, Brushes with the World, showcases artist’s images of cities and landscapes from 24 countries around the world, with 27 institutions contributing pieces to the collection. The AR experience also adds audio, including narration and sound effects, as you gaze at the work of Georgia O’Keeffe, Hokusai, Habeeb Andu, and others.
“As you approach each masterpiece, you will hear a tailor-made soundscape inspired by the locations and objects in the paintings. Some paintings are even accompanied by additional commentary to help you learn more as you travel,” says Luo.
For example, the gallery features Edvard Munch’s iconic painting The Scream, which is accompanied by the narrator’s brief explanation of the background, atmospheric synth notes, and the faint echoes of what sound like haunted souls in the distance.
The AR galleries are available in the Google Arts & Culture app for iOS and Android (except for the audio tour, which will be available “soon” on iOS).
To access them, tap the camera button on the home screen, select Pocket Gallery from the camera menu, then download the desired copy from the carousel. After placing a dollhouse replica of the gallery in your personal space, you can enlarge it life-size and walk through the virtual space to view the art on display in it.
Previous entries in the Pocket Gallery series have included the work of Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh and Johannes Vermeer, as well as virtual recreations of historical places such as Chauvet Cave and Bagerhat.
While the goal is to share art with the masses, the Google Arts & Culture team’s AR innovations also serve as an example of how artists can begin experimenting with NFTs (non-replaceable tokens). We’re already seeing NFT makers moving in this direction with MF Doom’s virtual masks and Adidas’ 3D sneakers. But wouldn’t it be really cool to explore your $ 500,000 virtual home as a Pocket Gallery-style experience? I think so.