The Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris is taking the typical museum experience to the next level. When visiting the “Water Lilies” rooms — two oblong-shaped galleries with eight panoramic panels of Claude Monet’s famous work — guests can now choose to take a virtual reality journey, and immerse themselves fully in the artist’s world. Called “Claude Monet: The Water Lily Obsession,” the experience will allow guests to “visit” Monet’s Giverny home and garden, which had been the inspiration for much of his work. (Note that it is possible and very much worth it to visit Monet’s home and its incredible garden in Giverny, just outside of Paris.)
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The experience will last a total of eight minutes, and trace the life of Monet’s “Water Lilies” from creation to exhibition. According to a press release, “You stand in the shallow waters at Giverny, inspired as he was inspired by the dappled light and fickle seasons…You are then transported to Monet’s studio, where a virtual canvas is stretched taut above and around you, and the artist’s bold, searing brushstrokes build up across your vision.”
According to ARTE, who produced the VR experience, the goal is to allow guests to plunge head first into Monet’s creation process. Monet also suffered from cataracts later in life, and the VR experience attempts to mimic his worsening eyesight and the strain that placed on his work.
The experience is part of the museum’s exploration of the artist’s relationship with French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau. Clemenceau had encouraged Monet to continue painting into the later years of his life, despite his cataracts. After the end of World War I, Monet officially donated a group of his “Water Lilies” paintings to the French government. In a letter to the prime minister, he said, “It’s not much, but it is the only way I have of taking part in the Victory.”
The VR experience debuted on November 12th, and will remain open until March 11th, 2019.