Vatican's virtual reality museum project in the Metaverse

On May 5th, the Vatican announced a surprising news. This institution, which is among the most conservative in the world, wants to put a step in the world of web 3.0 with a new project combining NFT, Virtual Reality and Metaverse. The Vatican is one of the most visited art museums in the world. Every year, nearly 6 million people visit its collection, but the emergence of NFT and virtual reality could revolutionize access to cultural heritage as we know it today. 

A virtual reality art gallery project

A few days ago, the Holy See's Humanity 2.0 Foundation informed us of its desire to enter the metaverse through a partnership with Sensorium. Humanity 2.0 is a non-profit organization that seeks to overcome obstacles to the socio-economic and cultural development of humanity through the use of media and technology. The objective of this project is to offer a gallery of NFT artworks in virtual reality. 

This launch will inaugurate NFT's first-ever VR-accessible gallery and will be hosting the Vatican's heritage. This virtual museum will be located in Sensorium's metaverse, named "Galaxy", which is expected to be launched within the year. Sensorium is a company specializing in metaverse and virtual reality development.

"We look forward to working with Sensorium to explore different ways to democratize art and make it more accessible to people around the world, regardless of their socio-economic and geographic limitations" says Father Philip Larrey, president of Humanity 2.0.

While the Vatican has approximately 800 artworks, this new virtual gallery will make many of the pieces accessible to people who would otherwise not be able to experience them. It's a whole new way to make culture and world heritage accessible to everyone. Concretely, visitors will be able to connect to this universe using virtual reality headsets to benefit from a real immersion.

The involvement of NFT in this project remains however a bit unclear. The Vatican assures us that the sole purpose of the project is to make its collection more accessible. No reference is made to sales of NFTs in this gallery, although the NFT market is mainly characterized by its commercial nature..

"The nature of this project under the Humanity 2.0 initiative is exclusively social and not commercial. Also, here, the NFTs do not have to come from artworks, but can also include tickets and other objects" said a Vatican spokesperson to Art News.

NFTs, an opportunity for museums

Like the Vatican, museums are becoming increasingly interested in Web 3.0 and NFT. Indeed, the technologies of this field can offer a digital conservation of a great number of art pieces and would facilitate the access to the culture to the greatest number. But if the Vatican's project remains primarily social and non-profit, some museums have chosen to take advantage of the financial aspect of NFTs to increase their profits. In February, the British Museum in London sold several representations of watercolors by the British painter William Turner as digital assets.

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May 17, 2022