At the beach with the monk

Caspar David Friedrich goes virtual reality

Old National Gallery

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© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Andres Kilger

Standing in front of a painting that opens up like a window onto another world, who wouldn’t imagine what it would be like to really step inside the world of the picture? After an intensive development process, the Alte Nationalgalerie’s new app allows visitors to get up close and personal with one of the key works of the collection and its history in a totally new way.

The Monk by the Sea is not just one of Caspar David Friedrich’s best known paintings and an international icon of German Romantic painting, but as a result of comprehensive restoration work carried out between 2013 and 2016, it is also a work about which we know a great deal in terms of the techniques of its production. Along with the immersive experience of standing by the sea just like the monk in the painting – and even having the chance to meet him – users of the app are able to follow and explore the stages of the production of the painting that are no longer visible in the original.

In this way, VR allows visitors to immerse themselves in the painting in two senses: firstly by entering the space of the picture to explore the question of how the lonely figure felt in the face of the forces of nature; and secondly, by entering into the various layers of the construction of the picture, in order to retrace the progression of Caspar David Friedrich’s painting process.

The accompanying visitor research is carried out by museum4punkt0. The project was realized in cooperation with Gebrüder Beetz Filmproduktion and ARTE. Virtual Reality Partner of the project is HTC VIVE.

Old National Gallery
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