The Museum of Stolen Art – a virtual art experience

Imagine wandering through a gallery space – you see a somehow familiar abstract bronze sculpture out of the corner of your eye. You stroll into the next room and there stands a sculpture of a rustic landscape painting. Just then you hear a voice say “For looted art go to your left, for art theft go to your right.”
Welcome to the Museum of Stolen Art, created by Israeli artist and technologist Ziv Schneider – the first virtual reality museum dedicated to art theft. This is no ordinary museum: it’s the home of artworks whose whereabouts are currently unknown – a place only accessible via Oculus Rift and a Playstation controller. You explore at your own pace as an audio guide explains the history of the different works.

Museum of Stolen Art

Schneider was first inspired while surfing the Interpol website, flipping from databases of wanted criminals and missing persons to art theft. The fact that art and crime could exist on a single plane fascinated her. What if, she pondered, she could pull disappeared art out of thin air?
The museum’s goal isn’t just to create a metaphorical space wherein people can admire artworks they can’t see anywhere else, but to give visibility to art that is otherwise impossible to see on a museum wall, and also to familiarize the public with stolen items in order to assist in the their recovery. Another goal is to bring attention to the subject of cultural theft, especially as a result of war and conflict.

Museum of Stolen Art
Schneider wants attendees to leave educated and ready to take action. Echoing her thoughts, the museum guide chimes in, “If you come across any of these pieces outside of a museum, please report immediately to the International Police.”


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