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Oculus Rift Used to Create Virtual Museum of Stolen Art

Virtual reality (VR) technology is already no stranger to museums. Over the past few years a handful of developers have created digital spaces in which players can put on an Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) and observe art and artefacts as if attending a real life museum. It’s an application that will no doubt become much more popular as VR moves to the mainstream and a student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts has proved that by creating one of the most interesting VR museums yet.


As Hyperallergic reports, Ziv Schneider, a graduate student of the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), has created the Museum of Stolen Art. Using information sourced from both Interpol and the FBI, the software allows players to tour a virtual gallery of artworks that are currently lost. As players explore the gallery narration will inform them about the pieces that they are viewing. While this gives people a chance to appreciate art that they might never see in real life, Schneider also hopes that it will raise awareness of cultural theft and recovery.

The first exhibition for the Museum of Stolen Art focuses on artefacts that have been stolen from the Afghanistan National Museum. It is estimated that 70% of the 100,000 items on display at the museum have disappeared in the past 36 years. There are also items lost due to looting in Iraq and ones stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in a heist in 1990. The software was showcased at the ITP Winter Show last year, although it’s not clear just when it might be released for a wider audience.

It’s interesting to see VR being used not just to appreciate works of art that are lost but also try to aid their recovery. VRFocus will continue to follow any and all applications of the technology, reporting back with any further updates on it.

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