Somewhere in the world today stolen masterpieces are making the rounds, perhaps never to be found. A student of New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) program has a solution, and no, it isn’t about tracking down the missing artwork. The Museum of Stolen Art is a virtual reality museum for works of art “that cannot be viewed physically anywhere in the world,” according to the explainer video.
Designed to replicate a museum experience, works “reported as missing in the FBI and Interpol art crime databases” are suspended on white walls and come complete with an audio guide, to give users contextual and realistic experience. Three exhibitions are planned: one for renowned stolen works which includes pieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum theft in 1990, and two focusing on looted art from Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s said that after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, an astounding 14,000 works were robbed from the Iraq Museum. The Museum of Stolen Art’s collections aim to reflect that art, history and culture can be a casualty in conflict zones, too. The project is an Oculus Rift experience, and describes itself as “an exploration of VR technologies both for different purposes like education, archiving and advocacy.” While people are still taking an interest in virtual reality technology, last year’s craze and quick end over Google Glass is a sign that there’s more work to be done before mass adoption.