In late 2019, the world’s second-largest museum, the Louvre, launched its first-ever virtual reality experience, “Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass.” Intended to commemorate artist Leonardo da Vinci on the 500th anniversary of his death, the exhibit allowed museum-goers to see da Vinci’s most famous painting up close and personal by donning a VR headset.
A collaboration between VR producers and museum curators, the 8-minute virtual experience used infrared X-rays, rotoscoping and computer-aided design to recreate a lifelike Mona Lisa with which Louvre visitors could interact in order to learn how da Vinci created the artwork, how the painting might have looked in the past and how it has changed over the last five centuries as a result of exposure to light and humidity. Viewers could even see in 3D how the painting’s famous subject, Lisa del Giocondo, might have looked and moved when da Vinci painted her.
“‘Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass’ will provide access to innovative technology, share academic knowledge and transform this knowledge into a very personal experience for visitors,” Dominique de Font-Reaulx, director of the Louvre’s Interpretation & Cultural Programming Department, told Centurion magazine in an October 2019 interview. “[The exhibit] will allow visitors to have an intimate encounter with the artwork.”