The Louvre’s new virtual reality experience will let users explore Leonardo’s “Mona Lisa.”

Wallace Ludel
Jun 17, 2019 5:12PM, via AFP

Courtesy HTC VIVE Arts.

As the Louvre prepares its blockbuster Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in honor of the 500th anniversary of his death, there has been no shortage of news related to the Renaissance master. First came the announcement that all visitors would need to acquire reservations to see the show, and more recently it was reported that Salvator Mundi (ca. 1500)the work attributed to Leonardo that sold for a record-breaking $450 million in November 2017—may be pulled from the show due to concerns over the accuracy of its attribution. The tone of today’s news is quite different, as the Louvre announced it will be debuting a its first-ever virtual reality work in tandem with the exhibition.

The VR work will be titled Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass and is being produced by the exhibition’s curators in collaboration with HTC VIVE Arts. It will allow users to get up-close to the work, which is heavily protected and perpetually mobbed by museumgoers. The VR experience is intended to shed new light on Leonardo’s techniques as well as on the identity of the sitter. The VR work will also be accessible as a home version for those with digital subscriptions.

Dominique de Font-Réaulx, director of mediation and cultural programming at the Louvre, said in a statement:

The public will be able to discover an immersive experience of an extraordinary masterpiece. This collaboration will allow visitors to meet and learn more about the Mona Lisa herself, beyond the myths and legends that have accompanied her for more than 500 years.

A great deal of news has surfaced as a result of research conducted around the quincentenary of Leonardo’s death, including a discovery of the second-known portrait of the artist; that he most likely sketched the “Nude Mona Lisa”; that he was ambidextrous; and that he may have suffered from an affliction known as “claw-hand” later in life.

The Louvre’s hotly anticipated Leonardo exhibition opens on October 24, 2019, and runs through February 24, 2020.

Wallace Ludel