The Tapestries of Louis XIV in 360 Degrees
The monumental tapestries of Louis XIV, a decorative arts curator, and a 360 camera. A peek into the exhibition now on view at the Getty Museum through May 1.

Posted by The Getty on Thursday, 3 March 2016

When you work at a place surrounded by great artworks dating back hundreds and hundreds of years, it’s a crucial responsibility to come up with new ways to share those works with old and new art lovers alike. Sometimes the things we come up with work… and sometimes they don’t. But the fun is in the experimenting.

Recently we’ve been playing around with 360 photography and video, sometimes referred to as VR or virtual reality. The technology behind VR is getting better and—more importantly—cheaper. That second development has enabled us to go out and experiment with some of these new tech toys.

To make a test video, we needed someone willing to play along with us. Charissa Bremer-David, curator of the incredible exhibition Woven Gold: Tapestries of Louis XIV at the Getty Center, was game enough to give us a VR “tour” of a few of her favorite tapestries in the show. We thought 360 video would be a nice way of showing these enormous and gorgeous works of art because you, the viewer, can turn around, look up and down, and get a true sense of scale. We have several of these short videos and if you like this one, we’ll share the others in the coming weeks.

We’re aware the detail you may want isn’t present in the videos. These small VR cameras (I used the Ricoh Theta S here) aren’t really made for up-close inspection, but rather to give you the sense of being in the room. In order to get serious detail, we’d need to spend serious money.

If you like this video and think it would be great to see more, then as we get further along and fine tune our skills in this new medium, we’ll be able to step it up a bit.

In the meantime, take a look and please let us know what you think. Like it or not? Either way, we’re curious to hear!

Note: If you’re viewing this video on desktop, use your mouse to pan and drag to see up and down. The experience is better on mobile, where you can use gestures to play around with the views. See it on Facebook here.