The Metropolitan Museum of Art has partnered with Verizon to debut a new virtual experience that invites museum-goers to remotely explore digitally-rendered galleries populated by nearly 50 works pulled from its colossal collection.
While the Met is currently open to the public with a reservation-based timed ticketing system and enhanced safety protocols firmly in place, the museum, like many cultural institutions that have expanded their digital offerings in recent months during the COVID-19 crisis, acknowledges that some might not yet be fully comfortable stepping inside its famed main building at 1000 Fifth Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side or the Met Cloisters. More generally, regardless of the pandemic, the immersive experience, The Met Unframed, allows the museum to reach a larger and more diverse audience free of geographic constraints.
As noted by Verizon’s chief creative officer Andrew McKechnie, the experience “enhances digital inclusivity for an audience that may have never experienced art in such a personal way.”
The Met Unframed welcomes users into over a dozen custom-designed digital galleries where they can, from the comfort of their homes or wherever they may be located, play games such as riddles and trivia questions that unlock augmented reality (AR) versions of works held in the museum’s collection.
As stated in a press announcement, the “virtual layout creatively arranges a sampling of galleries that display art from across millennia and from around the world, allowing the Museum—and the collection—to be experienced like never before.” The experience was designed by The Met in partnership with multidisciplinary production company Unit9.
“Our mission since The Met’s founding 150 years ago has been to connect people to art and ideas, and to one another—something we’ve found to be more powerful than ever over these last months of isolation and uncertainty,” said Max Hollein, director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in a statement. “The Met Unframed brings the Museum to audiences wherever they are in an innovative viewing experience in which users can virtually visit iconic spaces and engage with The Met’s masterpieces, learn more about the works in a playful way through AR, and enjoy bringing the art into one’s own surroundings. The Met Unframed expands the ways in which we can understand, experience, and appreciate art.”
As mentioned, the art selected for The Met Unframed is of diverse age and origin and includes the works of contemporary artists including El Anatsui, Mark Bradford, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Sam Gilliam, and Carmen Herrera; all five of the museum’s paintings by Jacob Lawrence, and large-scale works such as the Temple of Dendur, completed by 10 B.C., in and a 14th-century Chinese mural of the Buddha of Medicine. Also included are visitor favorites from artists such as Jackson Pollock, Vincent Van Gogh, and Rembrandt. The Met Cloisters is also represented with the perennial crowd-pleaser, The Unicorn Rests in a Garden (1495–1505) from the seven-part Unicorn Tapestries.
The Met Unframed will be accessible for a limited five-week run by clicking here on any 4G or 5G mobile smart devices. It is free to access.