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You Can Now Explore The Tate Museum In Virtual Reality

A new collaboration with Minecraft lets you get up close and personal with some of art history’s greatest masterpieces.

André Derain’s The Pool of London (1906) in Minecraft

In case you haven’t noticed, flight costs have been creeping up just as the quality of plane travel has severely plummeted. Art lovers who aren’t willing to smoosh themselves into the airborne equivalent of an NYC subway car, just to stand on a long museum line can now rejoice: famed international institution The Tate has decided to bring some of history’s greatest works directly to your laptop. Part of an ongoing series, the project uses popular “open world video game” Minecraft to offers players the chance to explore interactive artworks presented by the Tate, the third installment of which was just released last week. As Hyperallergic put it bluntly (and best), “Minecraft is sort of like digital Lego blocks on steroids; you start with a landscape, or a ‘map,’ in which you’re welcome to chop down whatever you like in order to build various structures.”


Called “Tate Worlds,” the project is the brainchild of a group of Minecraft prodigies known as “The Common People,” who repurpose works from their digital archives and transport them into Minecraft’s online universe. Three customized, fixed maps are available to download on Tate’s website, and feature virtual, explorable versions of André Derain’s “The Pool of London” (1906), Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson’s “The Soul of the Soulless City (‘New York – an Abstraction’)” (1920), and Peter Blake’s “The Toy Shop” (1962). Five other Minecraft worlds are planned for 2015, and will include immersive works by John Singer Sargent, Cornelia Parker, and John Martin.

An André Derain avatar welcomes you inside the Minecraft version of The Pool of London

The Minecraft version of Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson’s The Soul of the Soulless City (1920)

The REAL The Soul of the Soulless City (1920)

Surprisingly, this collaboration isn’t the Tate’s first foray into video game fueled art history education. In 2012, the museum created, “Race Against Time,” a free platformer iPhone game that explored some of modern history’s greatest arts movements. With the success of the project, perhaps it’s time for other European cultural institutions to hope on board. I, for one, would love to don Oculus Rift and take a 3D, laser-filled exploration of the Louvre.

All three iterations are currently available to download on Tate’s website.