Step Inside a VR Recreation of the Smithsonian American Art Museum by Framestore and Intel

Explore three separate pieces of art in the experience.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is world renown for having some of the most iconic pieces of art and sculpture anywhere. Not everyone can travel to the US to view the exhibits so Intel has collaborated with Framestore, VALIS Studios, 8i and xRez Studio to recreate the second floor east wing of the museum in virtual reality (VR).

To create the experience an Intel-powered LIDAR scan provided the ground work, which was then combined with photogrammetry provided by 3D specialist Greg Downing (xRez Studio) to build a high level of detail. VALIS Studios’ lead creative director and producer Peter Martin put the team together, with 8i providing the volumetric capture and Framestore provided the Unity build.

Framestore - Smithsonian Museum image 2

Built for room scale VR, the experience allows users to explore the museum using teleportation, where they’ll find three pieces that can be examined far more closely. First is the Adams Memorial, a famous bronze sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. As users draw in close a text overlay appears which details the story of ‘Clover’ Adams, wife of writer Henry Adams, who committed suicide in 1885 by drinking chemicals used to develop photographs. Her grieving husband commissioned the sculptor to create a memorial.

The next takes viewers to Aurora Borealis, the original oil painting created in 1863 by artist Frederic Edwin Church. Approaching the painting reveals the option to teleport into the art piece. It’ll take them to Iceland, where a 360-degree video at 6K resolution of the aurora borealis, provided by designer and photographer Olafur Haraldsson is viewable.

The last piece to explore takes place in a virtual theatre where the 2013 three-channel video installation, Face in the Crowd, plays on three walls. As viewers turn around, they’re are faced with a scan of the artist herself, Alex Prager, who tells them the inspiration for the work.

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