Advanced AR app brings Mauritshuis museum Rembrandt painting to life

The Mauritshuis museum and Nationale-Nederlanden have brought one of Rembrandt’s most famous paintings to life in augmented reality (AR) at the Waag (Weigh House) in Amsterdam.

Visitors to the Mauritshuis can use their smartphone to experience The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp in AR, to mark 350 years since the passing of Rembrandt.

Dutch design agency CapitolaVR created the Rembrandt Reality app, which offers a VR experience of the anatomical dissection in the painting.

Users can observe Dr Tulp and his fellow physicians, as well as the subject of their examination, the corpse of Aris Kindt.

Rather than simply overlaying information on a screen, actors were hired to recreate the scene.

In a nice touch, users go through a virtual archway to begin the experience.

“This is a new way of looking at art, which catapults the experience of looking at art into the future,” said Emilie Gordenker, director of the Mauritshuis.

“Rembrandt was a pioneering painter. He used new techniques to arrive at a new visual language. 350 year later, he continues to encourage us to innovate.

“Using augmented reality technology, you can enter the anatomical theatre through a portal, whether you are at home or outside. You become a witness to a seventeenth-century anatomy lesson and look over Rembrandt’s shoulder. A thrilling experience.”

Users are able to interact with virtual holographic 3D objects that have been scanned from a reconstruction of the painting using devices compatible with Apple’s ARKit or Google’s ARCore augmented reality platforms.

“We are proud to be able to bring one of Rembrandt’s fascinating paintings to a broad and young audience in this innovative way,” said NN Group’s Dailah Nihot. “You literally step into Rembrandt’s painting.

“We recently extended our partnership with the Mauritshuis for a further three years and this is exactly the kind of contemporary digital concept we would like to pursue. It fits well with our goal of helping to make art and culture accessible to everyone and making a positive contribution to society.”

The Rembrandt Reality app is available, free of charge, from the App Store and Google Play Store. The app works for smart devices that are no more than two years old.

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Image: Mauritshuis