Museums in New York are open with Covid-19-compliant rules, staggered entry and limited capacity. But art lovers still might not feel comfortable going to see their favorite galleries during a pandemic, so Verizon and The Metropolitan Museum of Art developed a unique new way to experience the museum from home.
The art of un-framing
The telecommunications company partnered with the largest art museum in the U.S. to launch The Met Unframed, a virtual, mobile-only experience featuring more than a 12 digitally-rendered galleries and nearly 50 works of art from across The Met’s expansive collection.
The five-week experience, accessible at themetunframed.com from any 4G or 5G smart device, also allows users to play games that unlock augmented-reality (AR) versions of the art that can be displayed virtually at home.
“The Met Unframed enhances digital inclusivity for an audience that may have never experienced art in such a personal way,” Verizon chief creative officer Andrew McKechnie said. “We’re utilizing the power of technology and enhancements enabled by Verizon 5G to provide extensive access, in-depth education, and opportunities for interactivity and sharing, for beloved works of art from one of the world’s most renowned museums.”
Putting the AR in ‘art’
The Met director Max Hollein added that the experience allows people to “learn more about the works in a playful way and, through AR, enjoy bringing the art into one’s own surroundings. The Met Unframed expands the ways in which we can understand, experience and appreciate art.”
Verizon tapped production studio Unit9 to work with The Met’s curatorial team to digitally render some of the museum’s iconic locations and displays, such as the Great Hall and the Temple of Dendur. Unit9 senior producer Jason Legge said the process began in August, with his team ultimately curating four digital galleries aligned with the themes of power, home, nature and spirituality.
“The most challenging part of the process was also the most fun: recreating the most iconic art institution in the US in WebGl,” Legge said. “The games were actually the simplest part—so much craft went into the Great Hall, Dendur and every inch of the museum.”
The convergence of art and tech
The famous art that AR brings to life includes Emanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851) and The Unicorn Rests in a Garden (1495-1505) from The Met Cloisters’ Unicorn Tapestries, both of which are accessible to users on Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband.
Additional games within the experience, including trivia questions, riddles and a “Zoom and Spot” challenge, also encourage close observation of the art and accompanying descriptions and content. Another game, “Analysis,” uses The Met’s infrared and XRF conservation documentation scans of paintings to offer a peek at underdrawings and other hidden details of The Met paintings, which might go unnoticed during an in-person visit.
“The convergence of art and tech is stronger and more important than ever so here’s hoping we helped inspire people,” Legge added. “I’m personally really hopeful that we inspired copycat projects in the near future. I’d love to see other agencies and institutions attempt something similar.”
Production Company – Unit9
Mindy Lubert – Head of Production
Giacomo Vigliar – Business Director
Jason Legge – Senior Producer
Jakub Jakubowski – Games Director
Evi Nathanaili – Project Manager
Karol Goreczny – Art Director
Scott Ashmore – Technical Director
Max Rusan – Technical Lead
Luc Palombo – Lead Developer
William To – Front-end Developer
Julian Faas – Motion Designer
Mathew Borrett – 3D Environment Artist
Shaun Larkin – 3D Artist
Dani Valkova – Sound Designer
Isabelle Kim – UX Lead
Luis Chique – 3D Animator
James Stokes – QA Lead
Alex Hughes – Copywriter
Davide Bianca – Creative Director (Pitch only)
Yifei Chai – Creative Director (Pitch only)
Romain Demongeot – Creative Director (Pitch only)