National Gallery Brings Old Master Back to Italian Home Using Virtual Reality

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Visitors to the National Gallery will be able to view a painting by Italian master Paolo Veronese in his original church using virtual reality technology.

The Consecration of Saint Nicholas was commissioned in 1561 as an altarpiece to hang in San Benedetto al Po in Mantua, and helmets will allow art lovers to see the piece in situ for the first time in over 200 years.

The altarpiece was added after the church was drastically altered and enlarged in 1539 by Giulio Romano, a pupil of Raphael.

Visitors wear helmets (National Gallery / PA)

It remained there until the 1820s, when it was kidnapped during the Napoleonic Wars.

Free 20-minute sessions will be available from March and feature a choice of two virtual guides – curator Dr Rebecca Gill, who will explore painting and frescoes, or the historical figure of Abbot Asola, who commissioned the painting. to Veronese.

The exhibition was born out of a research and development project on how the Museum of Fine Arts can share its research with a wider audience using immersive technologies.

The consecration of Saint Nicholas (National Gallery / PA)

It will be accompanied by a recording of a Gregorian chant, performed by Veneti Cantores, which was performed at the time of the creation of the painting.

Dr Gill said: ‘Through this project we are able to introduce architecture into the gallery and allow our visitors to explore for themselves what it might have been like to stand in front of the painting. from Veronese about 500 years ago. “

Lawrence Chiles, Head of Digital at the National Gallery, said: “Virtual Veronese has given us an understanding of how immersive storytelling can add a depth of experience, meaning and emotion to engaging gallery visitors with our paintings.

Virtual Veronese takes place from March 7 to April 3, 2022 at the National Gallery in London.

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