Versailles 3D, Created by Google, Gives You an Impressive Tour of Louis XIV’s Famous Palace

With 3D scale mod­els, music, and video, Google’s Ver­sailles 3D brings the best of 21st cen­tu­ry web arts to 18th cen­tu­ry art his­to­ry. The palace was built by Louis XIV, the “Sun King,” who exem­pli­fied all of the author­i­tar­i­an excess­es of the French monar­chy. For­tu­nate­ly for pos­ter­i­ty, he was also a patron of the arts, to whom we owe much of the work of Moliere, Racine and painters such as Charles Le Brun. And then there is his archi­tec­tur­al lega­cy, the palace of Ver­sailles, which start­ed out as a hum­ble hunt­ing lodge, built by his father Louis XIII in 1624. In the next sev­er­al decades, father, then son, com­mis­sioned the elab­o­rate set of build­ings that con­sti­tute Europe’s largest chateau and the seat of French gov­ern­ment from Louis XIV’s ascen­sion until the Rev­o­lu­tion of 1789. If you’re think­ing of vis­it­ing, the offi­cial chateau de Ver­sailles web­site has slideshows of grounds and gal­leries, a bou­tique, and some worth­while inter­ac­tive fea­tures. But Google, as usu­al, has tried to out­do its com­pe­ti­tion, this time by part­ner­ing with it. In con­nec­tion with the Ver­sailles cura­tors, The Google Cul­tur­al Insti­tute has cre­at­ed a mul­ti­me­dia almost-sub­sti­tute for a real life excur­sion to the gar­gan­tu­an and endur­ing sym­bol of Ancien Regime France.

The next video is a pre­view of a “Google Chrome Exper­i­ment” called “Chaos to Per­fec­tion,” an “inter­ac­tive stroll around the palace,” accom­pa­nied by an orig­i­nal sound­track from French band Phoenix. (The “exper­i­ment” itself is some­what slow load­ing, and requires the Chrome brows­er).

Final­ly, the engi­neers at Google (and part­ners Aloest, Wes­t­im­ages, le Fab­Shop and Les 84) give us a look behind the scenes of Ver­sailles 3D. Won­der how they cre­at­ed the elab­o­rate 3D scale mod­els of the palace grounds and build­ings? Well, the video below pro­vides a bar­rage of back­stage glimpses of the process, along with scenes from the open­ing of the Palace His­to­ry Gallery on June 14th.

And, of course, there will be mobile apps, Google promis­es, “soon.”

Josh Jones is a doc­tor­al can­di­date in Eng­lish at Ford­ham Uni­ver­si­ty and a co-founder and for­mer man­ag­ing edi­tor of Guer­ni­ca / A Mag­a­zine of Arts and Pol­i­tics.

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