Oculus Rift Platform Tracks & Finds The World’s Missing Art

Oculus Rift Platform Tracks & Finds The World’s Missing Art
Arts & Culture

The Museum Of Stolen Art features inaccessible pieces of history, interactive audio tour aimed to recover lost masterpieces

Simone Spilka
  • 16 january 2015

Have you ever wondered what it would look like to step into the world’s most sought-after art collection? Artist Ziv Schneider is now offering owners of Oculus Rift the opportunity to see for themselves: “For looted art, go to your right,” a voice narrates via audio. “For art theft, go to your left,” the voice continues. Enter The Museum of Stolen Art, a unique fusion of technology and art culture of artwork and sculptures reported as missing by the FBI and Interpol databases.

The initiative bridges the significant divide between the physical loss of the artwork and the viewing pleasure that might never exist otherwise. Schneider, pursuing an Interactive Telecommunications masters degree at NYU, created the audio visual tour to allow the viewer to experience art whose location is inaccessible and to promote the potential recovery of the missing work. Currently, viewers can see The Looting of Iraq, the Looting of Afghanistan and Famous Stolen Paintings — and are asked to notify the International police if they locate the stolen works in the outside world.


Schneider told PSFK that the inspiration to create a museum using virtual reality came from stumbling upon the Interpol website’s database of wanted criminals and missing persons. The artist was immediately fascinated by the connection between art and crime. Believing the dry data could be presented in a more engaging way, Schneider was challenged to create the museum for a school project about the past, present and future of museums. She explained the creative process:

I decided to….play with the idea of creating a virtual space for objects with virtual existence. The next stages in the process were researching and curating the exhibitions, recording an audio tour and designing a virtual gallery in Unity3D. One of the main challenges was finding information regarding the artworks stolen from Afghanistan. Some don’t have a Hi-Res photo version at hand, so I worked with whatever existed for visual representation of the piece. For some Iraqi paintings, the database had only a misspelled last name of a painter.

The experience using virtual reality sheds light to a new subject of otherwise archived piece of history. While most people would not seek to browse the database of art theft, viewers have jumped at the novel opportunity to peak into a hidden art world. Schneider told PSFK of underway planning of an official release and web version for people who do not have access to an Oculus Rift.

These new immersive platforms are a great way to engage people in content and get them to experience it in a much more vivid way. Many great experiences can be created in virtual reality and I look forward to seeing what the future brings. For the field of archiving, I am very curious to see what is done to meet the standards and conventions that go into making a long lasting digital archive.

The Museum of Stolen Art / Ziv Schneider

+middle east
+oculus rift
+stolen art

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