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BDH Immersive in The New York Times

Technology Invites a Deep Dive Into Art

By Eilene Zimmerman

For many years, patrons were asked to turn off their cellphones when they entered a museum. Now, they’re encouraged to use them with technologies like augmented and virtual reality, touch-screen tables and customized audio tours. The goal is to enhance the visitor’s experience while keeping the artwork front and center. Here are some examples.

Delights and Damnation

With Bosch VR, a virtual reality app created by the British digital agency Burrell Durrant Hifle, viewers travel through “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” a triptych by the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. The journey begins through the Garden of Eden on the back of a fish, and proceeds through Earthly Delights, where viewers see spectacular birds, orchards and festive naked people.

Then, said John Durrant, the owner of Burrell Durrant Hifle, “we descend into hell” — viewing a pair of dagger-wielding, disembodied ears; a man being crucified across a harp; a pig reading the last rites. “Collections are static and still and flat,” he said. “So the idea of moving an artwork around and feeling it as a living thing in space is irresistible.”

The painting is included in a retrospective that’s part of “Bosch Year 2016,” a series of events that honor the 500th anniversary of painter’s death, and it’s being held in his hometown, ’s-Hertogenbosch.

The app can be downloaded at no cost from Google Play or the iTunes App Store and used with a custom-designed Google cardboard headset that holds the user’s smartphone. The headset can be purchased from the National Gallery in London or from Amazon.

John Durrant