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    Friday, August 28, 2020

    World's First Virtual Art Museum VOMA Set to Open in September

    The Virtual Online Museum of Art will feature art from museums like Musee d'Orsay and New York's MOMA
    The world's first entirely virtual art museum is set to open next month, hoping to bring masterpieces to anyone in the world with an internet connection, according to its British creator.

    The Virtual Online Museum of Art (VOMA) will feature art from renowned museums such as the Musee d'Orsay in Paris and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as digital-only originals, said Stuart Semple, the artist behind the project.

    "The point of art is to communicate and share ideas ... (but) a lot of people can't travel to a museum," said Semple, whose large-scale public projects have included releasing thousands of smiley faced clouds over London, Moscow and Milan.

    When the federal government announced the lockdown in the FCT, and Lagos and Ogun states on March 30, other state governments followed suit and deployed lockdowns in their respective states.

    The report tells us that on average, Nigerians cut down activities at retail and recreation spots, parks, and transit stations by more than 50%.

    According to Google’s data, transit stations, which mainly refer to bus and train stations, had a 51% decrease in activities.

    Park spots like national parks and beaches also had a 51% drop in visits.

    Activities at retail and recreation spots (shopping centres, museums, movie theatres, restaurants, theme parks, cafes, and libraries) were down 53%.

    From the report, Lagos recorded an 80% drop in park activities when compared to a baseline from January to February.

    Also, activities in places like restaurants and movie theatres reduced as much as 68% during the lockdown.

    This is in stark contrast to what Nigeria as a country averaged on both fronts: 51% decrease in park activities and a 53% decrease in retail activities.

    "This is a way to make it a lot more accessible," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

    The new coronavirus pandemic forced almost all museums around the world to close this year, with some reopening for shorter hours to smaller numbers of mask-wearing visitors while others may never reopen, particularly in developing countries.

    Admittance to VOMA will be free, which its founders hope will help attract a diverse audience at a time when many artworks are under scrutiny for their links to slavery and colonialism with racial inequality in the spotlight globally.

    "The art world is very much skewed towards the white viewer, That's because of the way the system has been operating," said VOMA curator Lee Cavaliere, a London-based art dealer.

    "It's basically New York, London, Paris and Hong Kong. So this is an opportunity to break that open."

    Real World
    While virtual tours soared in lockdown, users often feel they are looking at "loads of photographs stitched together" rather than walking through an art gallery, something VOMA aims to change, Semple said.

    The museum is set within a digital building, which allows visitors to freely stroll through its grounds and galleries, take a close up look at art using high resolution 3D imagery, read reviews left by others and chat with friends, he said.

    Purpose-built software developed with input from architects, computer-generated imagery (CGI) designers and gaming experts, aims to create an immersive and interactive experience.

    On the outside, seasons, weather and time change, affecting light on the inside. So visitors could be seeing the art on a cold rainy morning or a starry summer night.

    "It's important to root this experience in the real world. I've seen digital art experiences that haven't worked because they felt too diffuse and that's slightly alienating," said Cavaliere.

    Running a space that doesn't actually exist offers extra flexibility, he said, as staff can easily add a room if needed and housing a 10-metre high sculpture is not a logistical nightmare.

    You can also burn the whole place down, as Kenyan-born multimedia artist Phoebe Boswell plans to do in her inaugural digital-first work for the museum, added Semple.
    © Reuters
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