AMSTERDAM — Johannes Vermeer, whose acute eye captured the quiet fantastic thing about Dutch home life, was not a prolific artist: Just 36 work are broadly acknowledged as his work. Still, anybody who needed to see all of them had to journey far and large — to New York, London, Paris and past.
The Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, which owns what is maybe Vermeer’s best-known masterpiece, “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” has teamed up with Google Arts & Culture in Paris to construct an augmented-reality app that creates a digital museum that includes all of the artist’s works.
For the app, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has contributed pictures of all 5 of its Vermeer masterpieces, whereas the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, every with 4, have additionally given pictures of theirs. Two extra have come from the Louvre, and three from the Frick Collection. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston has shared a picture of “The Concert,” the Vermeer that disappeared after being stolen from the museum’s assortment in 1990.
That portray can be on view as soon as once more in Meet Vermeer, the digital museum. Starting Monday, the free app can be accessible to anybody with a camera-equipped smartphone.
“This is one of these moments when technology does something that you can never do in real life, and that’s because these paintings could never be brought together in real life,” mentioned Emilie Gordenker, director of the Mauritshuis.
She defined that a few of the 17th-century work had been too fragile to journey, whereas some had been in non-public collections, and the Gardner’s was misplaced. But even underneath totally different circumstances, it might be unlikely that every one the homeowners could be keen to half with all of their prized Vermeers at the similar time.
The 18 museums and personal collections that personal Vermeer work, nevertheless, had been keen to present high-resolution digital picture information of their Vermeers to the undertaking.
Vermeer, a considerably mysterious determine who lived and labored in Delft, the Netherlands, is believed to have created about 45 work throughout a profession spanning almost twenty years. Some are believed to have gone lacking. Besides the 36 works that a majority of Vermeer scholars accept as authentic, other paintings have been attributed to him. Because the art world continues to debate their authorship, Ms. Gordenker said this virtual museum would not include them.
Although many of these images are already on the museums’ websites, Ms. Gordenker said she wanted to give the public a sense of the paintings’ size in relation to one another — something that is hard to convey in a flat picture on a screen.
Opening the app, visitors gaze down at a museum with no ceiling. To enter one of the rooms displayed, they touch the phone’s surface, pinching their fingers together and then opening them. As they land in a gallery, the perspective shifts so that they face the walls, where the framed paintings hang. Zooming in, they can approach each work and examine it closely.
The first room is devoted to Vermeer’s earliest works. The rest of the museum is organized thematically, exploring subjects such as “contemplation” and the studies of faces known as “tronies.”
Laurent Gaveau, director of Google’s Arts and Culture Lab, a nonprofit developed to experiment with new ways to make art and culture accessible to the public, said this was the first virtual museum that Google had created, but that he could certainly imagine making more.
“We could think about all kinds of museums that never existed,” he said in a telephone interview, although he added that no other such projects were yet in the works. “We want to first see how people will react to this, and we want to see, from a technological standpoint and a user standpoint, if it’s right and how it can be improved.”
Paintings by Vermeer have long been reproduced in all types of formats, from posters to patterns on handbags and umbrellas. But as the technology improves and visitors have the artificial but intimate experience of seeing high-quality reproductions in a museum setting, does Ms. Gordenker worry that they will be less motivated to travel for the real thing?
No, she said.
“The more information we share, including images, the more I think that people want to have the authentic experience of seeing the work in its home,” she said, “and seeing it as an actual physical presence. One of the reasons that museums have becoming increasingly relevant, and why attendance is going up, is that we’ve been able to harness these digital technologies. It breaks down barriers, and makes what we have much more accessible.”