See the Complete Works of Vermeer in Augmented Reality: Google Makes Them Available on Your Smartphone

No muse­um could ever put on a com­plete Ver­meer exhi­bi­tion. The prob­lem isn’t quan­ti­ty: thus far, only 36 works have been defin­i­tive­ly attrib­uted to the 17th-cen­tu­ry Dutch painter of domes­tic scenes and por­traits, most famous­ly Girl with a Pearl Ear­ring. But they all hang in col­lec­tions scat­tered around the world, not just in places like Ams­ter­dam and The Hague but Lon­don, New York, Paris, and else­where besides. Some have become too frag­ile to trav­el, and one, The Con­cert, was stolen in 1990 and has­n’t been seen since. But all of this makes a com­plete Ver­meer exhi­bi­tion the per­fect con­cept to exe­cute in vir­tu­al real­i­ty, or rather aug­ment­ed real­i­ty — a con­cept just recent­ly exe­cut­ed by the Mau­rit­shuis muse­um and Google Arts & Cul­ture.

“In total, 18 muse­ums and pri­vate col­lec­tions from sev­en coun­tries con­tributed high-res­o­lu­tion images of the Ver­meers in their pos­ses­sion, which were then com­piled into a vir­tu­al muse­um by Google,” writes Giz­mod­o’s Vic­to­ria Song.

“To view the Meet Ver­meer vir­tu­al muse­um, you can down­load the free Google Arts and Cul­ture app for iOS and Android. So long as you have a smart­phone with a work­ing cam­era, all you have to do is point your phone at a flat sur­face, wave it in a cir­cle, and voila — you, too, can have a vir­tu­al muse­um float­ing above your bed and night­stand. After that, you can pinch and zoom on each of the sev­en rooms to ‘enter’ the AR muse­um to view the paint­ings.” If you enter the vir­tu­al muse­um on a com­put­er, you can nav­i­gate a com­plete­ly vir­tu­al ver­sion of those themed rooms, of which you can catch glimpses in the GIF below.

Google’s aug­ment­ed-real­i­ty tech­nol­o­gy, in oth­er words, allows not just the cre­ation of an entire vir­tu­al muse­um in which to view Ver­meer’s body of work togeth­er, but the cre­ation of such a muse­um in any loca­tion where you might pos­si­bly open the app. Those of us who tend toward fan­tasies of a high-pow­ered art col­lec­tion will, of course, want to give it a try in our homes and get a taste of what it would look like if we had the cash on hand to round up all the Ver­meers in the world our­selves. Whether the impe­cu­nious Ver­meer him­self — impe­cu­nious in part, no doubt, due to his lack of pro­lifi­ca­cy — enter­tained such dreams of wealth, his­to­ry has­n’t record­ed, though giv­en the unabashed domes­tic­i­ty of his sub­jects, he might well agree that, for an exhi­bi­tion of every­thing he ever paint­ed, there’s no place like home.

Again, to view the Meet Ver­meer vir­tu­al muse­um, you can down­load the free Google Arts and Cul­ture app for iOS and Android.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load All 36 of Jan Vermeer’s Beau­ti­ful­ly Rare Paint­ings (Most in Bril­liant High Res­o­lu­tion)

Mas­ter of Light: A Close Look at the Paint­ings of Johannes Ver­meer Nar­rat­ed by Meryl Streep

Paint­ings by Car­avag­gio, Ver­meer, & Oth­er Great Mas­ters Come to Life in a New Ani­mat­ed Video

Take a Vir­tu­al Real­i­ty Tour of the World’s Stolen Art

Rijksmu­se­um Dig­i­tizes & Makes Free Online 210,000 Works of Art, Mas­ter­pieces Includ­ed!

Take a Vir­tu­al Tour of The Uffizi Gallery in Flo­rence, the World-Famous Col­lec­tion of Renais­sance Art

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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