Sunflowers is a series of paintings created by Vincent Van Gogh over the course of 1888 and 1889. Each one of the of five pieces now hangs in a different museum, scattered across the world from Philidelphia to Tokyo. Bringing them together for one exhibit has been impossible- until now.
Willen van Gogh, Vincent’s great-grand-nephew, narrates a new 360-degree video exhibition featuring all five paintings in the same “room.” Willen takes the viewer from work to work, describing their history and significance in detail.
The new experience launched August 10th on the Facebook pages of three of the participating museums: The National Gallery in London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Neue Pinakothek in Munich, and Tokyo’s Seiji Togo Memorial Museum of Art. Gear VR owners can find the exhibit on the Oculus store starting on August 14th.
We tried the experience ourselves, through the Facebook 360 app on Gear VR. The history van Gogh describes is sure to please amateur art historians, but the paintings themselves fail to make an impression in virtual reality. Even on the 1440p screen of the Galaxy S7, the floral images don’t look any more detailed than in a book. Individual brushstrokes are invisible, and video compression artifacts blur the image even further.
Even with these caveats, art buffs will find the video experience worth their time, along with live broadcasts on the 14th from each partner museum. While taking in Sunflowers, Gear VR owners can also experience Night Cafe, a virtual reality interpretation of a van Gogh work by the same name, available on the Oculus store.