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When the coronavirus hit, cultural institutions had to pivot the way they engaged with the public. That often meant closing their physical doors and creating an online presence. Now, while many of them are hoping to get back to business as usual soon, a new museum is opening that's fully embracing the new normal. VOMA (Virtual Online Museum of Art) will be the world's first fully interactive virtual museum.
"Opening" on September 4, VOMA is set to feature both classic and modern works of art from all over the world. The collection will be curated by museum director Lee Cavaliere, who pulled pieces from renowned institutions like Musée d'Orsay and Madrid's Museo del Prado. You can expect works like Édouard Manet's Olympia, The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, and others by Nan Goldin, Kara Walker, and Li Wei.
Just as in a brick-and-mortar museum, there will be different galleries with themes. For example, one called "Degenerate Art Show" features works by Max Beckmann and Henri Matisse, who were considered degenerates in the 1937 Nazi era.
Thanks to advanced technology, each piece is viewable in high resolution and comes with other related materials to give visitors a detailed background about the piece. It's arguably more than what you would get at a traditional museum. But the goal is to make it feel like you're strolling through a gallery in real life.
"In building and curating VOMA, we wanted to get away from that feeling, which is not all that different from walking into a snooty, silent gallery space and feeling a bit self-conscious," said artist and museum creator Stuart Semple, in a release. "We want our visitors to feel like this is their space, and we want them to want to come back again and again, whether to visit new exhibitions as the program continues, or just to hang out."