Meet Vermeer: The Google App That Lets You See All of Vermeer's Work in One Place

Johannes Vermeer, Girl With a Pearl Earring (1665)
Johannes Vermeer, Girl With a Pearl Earring (1665) / Mauritshuis, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

To see the full works of 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, you’ll have to whip out your phone. As The New York Times reports, Google Arts and Culture has worked with the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, Netherlands to create a virtual museum, Meet Vermeer, where you can see all of the painter's art in one visit.

The Mauritshuis is home to Vermeer's most famous painting, Girl With a Pearl Earring, but the artist's other work is held in museum collections around the world. The Meet Vermeer app draws on high-resolution photographs contributed by 18 different museums and private collections to create an augmented-reality exhibit of a wide span of Vermeer's work. The list of institutions include the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and the Frick Collection in New York City.

The virtual museum brings together more Vermeer paintings in one place than any physical museum would possibly be able to offer. For one thing, many of the centuries-old paintings are too fragile to travel. Some of the paintings can't be seen in person—the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum submitted an image of a painting called The Concert that was stolen from its collection in 1990. (Four of Vermeer's paintings have been stolen from museums since the 1970s, but the other three have since been recovered.)

Vermeer scholars have authenticated 36 different paintings from the artist, though he may have painted closer to 45 during his career. Only paintings that the majority of Vermeer scholars agree on are included in Meet Vermeer, since the origins of the remainder are still up for debate.

Four views from the Meet Vermeer augmented reality gallery
Four views from the Meet Vermeer augmented reality gallery / Screenshot, Google Arts and Culture

To view the 3D walkthrough of the exhibit, you’ll need to download the Google Arts and Culture app. From there, you can click on the "Meet Vermeer" exhibit and navigate to the augmented reality feature. (Click "get started" on the tab that says "The complete work in augmented reality.") From there, you'll need to move your phone around in space a bit to get the app oriented to your position. Soon, a miniature, roofless museum will show up on your screen. You can tap to enter the museum and move around the galleries, where you'll see Vermeer's paintings hung on the virtual walls. Move your phone to look around and double-tap the paintings to zoom in and get more information.

The entire digital exhibit involves much more than just an augmented reality walk-through. It includes features on Vermeer's influence, the subjects he painted regularly, his Dutch hometown of Delft (also available as a digital walk-through), the palette and tools he used, examinations of Girl With a Pearl Earring, the history of Vermeer-stealing art thieves, and more.

Download the app for Android or iOS.

Love Vermeer's Baroque style? Learn more about Girl With a Pearl Earring here. As a chaser, go ahead and brush up on facts about another master painter of the Dutch Golden Age, Rembrandt van Rijn, too.

[h/t The New York Times]