Today, in an attempt to increase accessibility, more and more museums are putting their collections online. While most institutions opt to simply digitize and catalogue photographs of their objects, some go above and beyond by offering virtual tours of their premises and click-through exhibitions. The latest site to take this technologically impressive route is the Palace of Versailles, a historic chateau located just outside of Paris.
Created in collaboration with Google Arts and Culture and available on Steam, Versailles: The Palace is Yours, takes users on an all-access tour of the hunting lodge-turned-castle. A “technological first in the cultural world,” this VR experience has been crafted using photogrammetry, a technique that crafts three-dimensional models from ordinary photographs.
In this case, the tool has transformed 4TB of data and 15 billion pixels collected by Google into a lifelike rendering of the palace's famous Royal Grand Apartments, Chapel, Opera, and Hall of Mirrors—and, of course, the treasures stored within them. “As well as detailed reconstitution of the rooms,” the Palace explains, “the app includes high-definition photos of artwork in the Palace,” including decorative art objects owned by Marie Antoinette and rare royal family portraits.
The best part? Versailles: The Palace is Yours enables you to experience the popular site in peace. Attracting over 6 million visitors a year, the site is among France's most popular attractions, making this crowd-free experience all the more appealing.