The international art scene has embraced virtual reality during the pandemic, with online exhibitions and 3D interactive views of artworks among the ways that artists and galleries – from MOMA to the Vatican Museums – have been keeping art available to view.
In Denmark, the government has supported the country's National Gallery to show 40,000 works virtually – leading to an increase in online visitors of 280 percent.
Internationally acclaimed modern artist Thyra Hilden has put an interactive version of her corona-inspired gallery exhibition "Symmetry" on her website, sparking feedback from modern art customers around the world. "The exhibition just went viral in China," she said, "that possibility was not here if I just had the exhibition in Copenhagen. So it turned out very positive I think."
ArtLand.com, where pieces from many of the world's leading galleries are presented in 3D/VR, has seen a 350-percent increase in visitors.
Auction house Sotheby's also announced record online sales of art during the pandemic, in part thanks to 3D VR images online. Sotheby's inaugural online contemporary art day auction netted $13.7 million in May. Modern art curator Thomas Andersen notes that greater online accessibility has allowed him to follow the international scene more closely.
"As a curator, it's very convenient to use digital media to get an overview about what is going on in the contemporary art scene, all over the world."
But, standing beside one of Hilden's "Symmetry" paintings, Danish MP Zenia Stampe describes virtual viewings as just a "bridge" until widespread in-person viewings can resume.
"I find that digitization is very important, because it's creating a bridge. I just find it also very important, to be clear, that it should not end there. It's not a future where we only look at pictures at our computer or smartphone. It's important that digitization is a bridge to actually go and see the art where it is, or that we get it home where we live."
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