Arts and Culture

An art gallery in your pocket: See Vermeer’s paintings in augmented reality

Over 28 years ago, two art thieves dressed as police officers made their way into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and stole multiple artworks, including a Vermeer painting that was one of only 36 attributed to the artist. With an estimated value of over $200 million, “The Concert” remains one of the most expensive missing items on the FBI’s list of stolen art. With the rest of Vermeer’s masterpieces scattered across 17 collections in seven countries, people have never had the opportunity to see all of Vermeer’s works in one place. And since some of his works are now too fragile to travel, they’ll have to remain where they are indefinitely.

But now, you can experience all of Vermeer's known artworks in one place for the first time. Thanks to the Mauritshuis museum in the Netherlands and other cultural institutions guarding Vermeer’s legacy, they’re available in Pocket Gallery, a brand new feature on the Google Arts & Culture app. Pocket Gallery uses augmented reality, so you can pull out your phone and step into a virtual exhibition space to see all of his works, curated by experts from the Mauritshuis. All 36 of his paintings—including the missing masterpiece and the famous “Girl with a Pearl Earring”—hang lifesize and perfectly lit. As you step closer, you’ll see each painting in stunning detail and can learn more about each piece.   

The Art Camera—our ultra-high resolution robotic camera made specifically for artworks—was deployed to several galleries around the world, creating the highest-ever resolution image of eight of Vermeer’s masterpieces for your zooming pleasure. You can also dive into “in painting tours” of each Vermeer’s 36 works and enjoy the guided insights into artworks like Girl with a Flute. In addition to Vermeer’s paintings, you’ll be able to explore several expert stories that shed light on Vermeer's art, legacy or mysterious life—for instance, you can hear from Tracy Chevalier, author of the bestseller “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”

Today, Vermeer resonates in pop culture references around the world. Justin Richburg—who recently created the character designs for Childish Gambino’s music video “Feels like Summer”—conceived an original piece of art that bridges time and cultures: “Icons” reimagines Vermeer in the 21st century, and shows how the subjects of his paintings have become icons themselves.

justinrichburg

Icons by Justin Richburg.

You can experience Vermeer’s work in a variety of formats—whether it’s an interactive coloring book on Instagram or an original series with YouTube Creators. To see Vermeer’s paintings hanging where they currently are, you can also check out Street View photography in galleries worldwide to navigate the halls of the Frick Collection (New York) and Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam). Visit g.co/meetvermeer, join the conversation with #MeetVermeer or download the app on either iOS or Android to try out Pocket Gallery.