Encore Engagement at the Met - 'Small Wonders: The VR Experience'

By CFC Staff March 26, 2017 19:20

Photo by Allison Meire

Back by popular demand, CFC Media Lab, Seneca’s School of Creative Arts and Animation and the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) are returning to The Met Cloisters (99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park, New York, NY 10040) with their “impressively transporting” (Hyperallergic) virtual reality (VR) collaboration, Small Wonders: The VR Experience. The encore engagement is FREE with admission, with reservations suggested due to popular demand, Friday, March 31–Sunday, April 2 and Friday, May 12–Sunday, May 14, 10:30 a.m. to 5 pm in the Fuentidueña Chapel at The Met Cloisters, the branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art and architecture of the Middle Ages.

“It really is worth it to gain an intricate understanding on a forensic level of how meticulous the detail is in these handheld objects.” Allison Meire, Hyperallergic

After exploring the exhibition Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures, running through May 21, which brings together for the first time some 50 rare boxwood carvings from museums and private collections across Europe and North America, visitors can don a VR headset and walk through the Last Judgement: Coronation of the Virgin (1500-1530), a Gothic miniature bead that fits inside the palm of one’s hand. VR users will get up close and personal with the intricately carved saints and sinners.

The exhibition offers new insight into the methods of production and cultural significance of these awe-inspiring works of art. Small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, these tiny masterpieces depict complex scenes with elegance and precision. Without fail, they inspire viewers to ask how an artist could have possibly made them, a question that can only be answered today and a challenge perfect for VR technology. The integrated use of VR enhances the museum experience, and marks a significant first for The Met Cloisters.

“I had been interested in creating a parallel experience for the public,” says Lisa Ellis, the conservator of the Art Gallery of Ontario, who created the exhibit. I think there is complete synchronicity between these tiny objects and the virtual world inside the HTC headset.” The result is an experience of exploring art like no other.

“This was a lightning in a bottle experience,” says Ana Serrano, Chief Digital Officer, CFC, and Producer, Small Wonders: The VR Experience. “A perfect marriage of content and form that made an object of wonder accessible.”

The AGO, CFC Media Lab and Seneca’s School of Creative Arts and Animation partnered to create Small Wonders: The VR Experience. Using one of the AGO’s micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) scans of the miniatures, the creative and technical team led by interactive artist and designer, Priam Givord, developed an experience specifically for the HTC Vive platform. Viewers can explore the intricate carvings of the prayer bead from various angles and in detail otherwise inaccessible to the human eye. The soundtrack, Treasures of Devotion: Spiritual Songs in Northern Europe 1500-1540, echoes the ambience of the wider show. The result: VR enriches the contemplative and immersive experience.

Small Wonders: The VR Experience was created by Lisa Ellis, Conservator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts (AGO); VR Creative and Technical Director Priam Givord (Interactive Artist/Designer); VR Producers Ana Serrano (CFC Media Lab) and Mark Jones (Seneca College); VR Technical Team Craig Alguire, Morgan Young (Quantum Capture) and Tyrone Melkitoy (Mobio Interactive); Composer/Vocalist Anne Azema, Artistic Director (The Boston Camerata); Narrator Gillian McIntyre; and Micro-CT Scanner Andrew Nelson, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Sustainable Archaeology (Western University).

The exhibition continues at The Met Cloisters through May 21, 2017, but the VR experience will only run during public hours, Friday, March 31–Sunday, April 2 and Friday, May 12–Sunday, May 14. To learn more about the Small Wonders exhibition and to plan your visit, go to: http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2017/small-wonders

At The Met Cloisters, Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures is made possible by the Michel David-Weill Fund.It was organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.