Mona Lisa in VR: Louvre’s Leonardo Show Goes ‘Beyond the Glass’

The landmark exhibition will mark 500 years since the death of the Italian master

Mona Lisa Beyond the Glass, still, 2019. Courtesy: Emissive and HTC Vive Arts

Mona Lisa Beyond the Glass, 2019, still. Courtesy: Emissive and HTC Vive Arts

To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, the Louvre in Paris will stage a major retrospective of the Italian master which will include an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience. Scheduled to open on 24 October 2019, it will be the first time the Paris museum has used VR technology in an exhibition.

Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass will bring to life the story of the Mona Lisa (1503) and will allow visitors to interact with the painting in virtual space. Working in collaboration with HTC VIVE Arts, the Louvre will invite visitors to use VR headsets and will offer a take-home version of the experience for subscribers to HTC’s Viveport.

The VR project will use scientific techniques to reveal further details about the how the painting was made more than 500 years ago, and research providing in-depth information about the identity of the famous subject will be presented to visitors.

Four other paintings in the Louvre’s collection will also appear in the retrospective, including The Virgin of the Rocks (c. 1483-86) and La Belle Ferronnière (c. 1490). However, it remains unclear whether the Salvator Mundi (c. 1490-1500), an artwork attributed to Leonardo and sold by Christie’s for USD$450 million in 2017, will be included in the landmark show.

A statement, announcing the exhibition, said: ‘Viewers will have the rare chance to be immersed into the world’s most iconic painting, stepping behind the glass to access the intriguing portrait up close in an entirely new, transformative way.’

Dominique de Font-Réaulx, Director of Mediation and Cultural programming at the Louvre, said: ‘The public will be able to discover an immersive experience of an extraordinary masterpiece. This collaboration will allow visitors to meet and learn more about the Mona Lisa herself, beyond the myths and legends that have accompanied her for more than 500 years.’

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