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  • Writer's pictureVan Weyenbergh Fine Art

Tete-a-Tete with "Mona Lisa", virtually made possible!

The great absent of the exhibition "Leonardo da Vinci" at the Louvre remains The Mona Lisa. Yet installed a few tens of yards from the Napoleon Hall, it has not made the trip because of a problem of space: 30 000 visitors come every day to contemplate the artwork while the temporary exhibition can only accommodate 5000 on all its areas. Would tourists be deprived of a selfie with the most famous portrait in the world? No, especially since the visitors to the temporary exhibition have, thanks to virtual reality, the opportunity to have a real tête-à-tête with Léonard's masterpiece.

This event is the first virtual reality initiative of the Louvre, a technology that is gradually inviting itself into art museums. Already in 2017, the Taiwanese group HTC Vive - which develops the Louvre project - invited visitors to Tate Modern, in London, to a virtual tour of Amedeo Modigliani's studio. And in France, the exhibition "Monet - Clemenceau: a friendship" of the Orangery Museum proposed at the end of 2018 an immersion in Les Nymphéas. Initiatives that should increase, so much digital mediation has taken an essential place in the strategy of the museums.

At the Louvre, the experience is rediscovering the Mona Lisa, in a rather technical way at first: we visualize the 30 layers of paintings which produce the effect of sfumato, or a crack at the top of the canvas, which usually remains invisible behind the bulletproof glass and the crowd of tourists. Virtual reality then becomes a dreamlike invitation: Mona Lisa is discovered under her loggia, and one immerses herself in the enigmatic background that the art historian Daniel Arasse called "a landscape of origins". Le journal des arts

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