Skip to Content

Art Gallery of Ontario

Keyword Site Search

Art Matters Blog

Small wonders, big headset

December 20th, 2016

Photo courtesy Alex Bruce Photography.

Since launching in early November, our Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures exhibition has astounded and amazed visitors with its tiny, mesmerizing carvings from the late Renaissance. Blending cutting-edge technology with groundbreaking art historical research, the exhibition has been praised by The New York Times and CNN for its insights. Not too shabby!

Now, in partnership with the Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab and Seneca College’s School of Creative Arts and Animation, AGO visitors have another exciting way to explore these intricate works of art.

Beginning this Saturday and running each weekend until January 22, visitors over the age of 13 can grab a virtual reality (VR) headset and explore a 3-D rendering of a miniature boxwood carving from the AGO’s collection. The experience is free with general admission and marks a significant first for the AGO – the integrated use of VR to enhance the exhibition experience.

Using one of the AGO’s micro-computed topography (micro-CT) scans of the miniatures, the creative and technical team behind this project have developed a unique immersive experience that allows viewers to explore the intricate carvings of the objects from various angles and in detail otherwise inaccessible to the human eye.

According to AGO Interpretive Planner Gillian McIntyre, visitors who put on the headset experience awe and wonder. “Seeing the individual features on faces only millimetres high and watching the bead explode into component parts helps us understand the mystery around how these exquisite objects were made,” she says.

Although Small Wonders: The VR Experience is only available on weekends, visitors can see a video simulation of the VR experience in action at any time inside the exhibition. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in store for those who dare to get up close and personal:

Click here to learn more about the Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures exhibition and to plan your visit. Did you know that that if you are an AGO Member, you can come to the exhibition for free as many times as you’d like? Click here to join.

Are you an AGOinsider yet? If not, sign up to have stories like these delivered straight to your inbox every week.

Video: Small Wonders: The VR Experience was created by Lisa Ellis, Conservator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts (AGO); VR Creative and Technical Director Priam Givord (Seneca College); VR Producers Ana Serrano (CFC Media Lab) and Mark Jones (Seneca College); VR Technical Team Craig Alguire and Morgan Young (Quantum Capture) and Tyrone Melkitoy (Mobius Interactive); Composer and Vocalist Anne Azema, Artistic Director (The Boston Camerata); Narrator Gillian McIntyre; and Micro-CT Scanner Andrew Nelson, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Sustainable Archaeology (Western University).

Comments are closed.