The virtual museum of the De Fornaris Foundation.
Guaranteeing a digital experience that is as close as possible to reality is a challenge faced by many museums and organisations in the world of art, even more so in times when physical visits are impossible.
The goal that prompted the De Fornaris Foundation to create “Il Museo che non c’è” (“the museum that isn’t there”), with the support of Infinity Reply, was to provide art enthusiasts worldwide with the opportunity to discover and closely appreciate the works of art in its collection, while staying at home.
Although the Foundation owns a rich collection of artwork, all visible on the new website, it did not own a physical or digital museum in which the entire collection could be permanently exhibited. Only a few works of art were on display at the GAM - the Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Turin, but on a rotational basis and for limited periods of time.
Thus, the idea of “Il Museo che non c’è” was born, a virtual museum created by Infinity Reply with the help of latest generation technology, while keeping in mind the real experiences of visitors.
While virtually visiting the museum, the user is guided through an environment that’s architecture closely resembles that of the GAM in Turin, in an attempt to maintain a strong sense of continuity with the spaces that physically house the works.
Visitors are able to move around the virtual museum’s rooms and stand in front of the artwork, as if they were in the physical museum. The hot-spots and interactive captions offer visitors key information about the work displayed and, as per the real experience, it is possible to approach the work of art almost to the point where you can touch it, to enjoy and appreciate all of the minute details such as brushstrokes and lines. This is thanks to the high definition image capture of the artwork.
The sculptures, on the other hand, have been rendered in 3D so visitors can enjoy a 360-degree view of them. The experience can be made even more immersive, thanks to a second version being created for virtual reality headsets and viewers. Finally, in order to appreciate a number of the sculptures owned by the Foundation that are exhibited in the museum gardens, users can also enjoy a visit outside the art gallery, relying on the same technology used for Street View.
For the “Il Museo che non c'è” Infinity Reply created a computer graphics (CGI) digital environment consisting of 6 rooms, inside which visitors can move with total freedom. The works of art (paintings and sculptures) were put on display inside the various digital rooms, obtained thanks to the most modern photogrammetry and laser scanning techniques.
The application was designed for use via the web using common browsers and operating systems, as well as through mobile devices, thanks to the dedicated “De Fornaris Virtual Museum” app, downloadable from the Apple Store and Google Play. A backend system was created for the dynamic and multilingual management of all the informative text content. An infrastructure based on Amazon Web Services (AWS) was configured to ensure maximum scalability of web versions in the event of high user traffic.
The virtual museum was created by leveraging the potential offered by the Unity3D development engine. Unity3D is a flexible and powerful development framework, designed for the production of interactive experiences based on 2D/3D digital content. Thanks to a versatile build engine, the tool makes it possible to develop an experience that can be made available on different platforms: web, mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets) and Virtual Reality viewers. As is the case within a film set, with Unity3D it is possible to set up different scenes, arrange cameras and lights, as well as all the various objects that make up a scene. Through Unity3D it is also possible to manage physics-related interactions, such as the force of gravity or collisions between rigid objects.
In the alternative experience created for 3D viewers, users virtually find themselves inside a digital museum, within which they can move by exploiting the 6 degrees of freedom offered by the technology. Relying on the teleportation functionality, users can position themselves near a work of art and approach it by physically moving (walking, leaning forward), just as though they were in a real museum.
To create this version, Infinity Reply took full advantage of its know-how in the design and development of VR experiences, ensuring adequate positioning of the rooms and a user experience that made it possible to avoid all camera movements that could potentially induce a feeling of nausea for the user.
De Fornaris Foundation
The Guido and Ettore De Fornaris Foundation was founded in Turin in 1982 by the will of the patron and collector Ettore De Fornaris. Since then, it has been active with numerous initiatives in the art scene: it acquires 19th and 20th century and contemporary works of art, it organises exhibitions of its collections and series of meetings, it publishes catalogues, studies and research. In the landscape of Italian art foundations, the De Fornaris Foundation represents a rare example of an institution that works closely with museums such as the GAM - the Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Turin, with the specific purpose of expanding the collections. The Foundation owns thousands of paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs and graphics collections (drawings, watercolours, engravings and architectural projects) which, following an agreement with the City of Turin, are kept at the GAM.
Infinity Reply is a professional services company specialising in innovative XR solutions and is part of the Reply Group. Infinity Reply acts independently of technologies and industries and offers its clients specific XR solutions optimised for the relevant use case and the relevant framework conditions. The portfolio includes consultancy, design and development, content production and rollout and support of XR solutions.