The Museum of Modern Art in the Brazilian city of São Paulo has created a virtual version of itself which can be explored online. The difference with this digital version of the art museum is that it has been rendered on the gaming platform Minecraft, however. When the outbreak of the global healthcare emergency hit the Brazilian art museum, like many others it decided that it needed to close its doors to protect both the public and gallery employees. However, instead of opting for livestreams or virtual tours, the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art decided that it would team up with the globally renowned game Minecraft.
According to the management team of the gallery, which first opened to the public in the late 1940s, the museum wanted to find new ways by which patrons from all around the world could explore its collection. Minecraft has been used in the context of museums before, usually for special virtual exhibitions, such as one that depicted the UK’s capital before the Great Fire of 1666 which was made for the Museum of London a few years ago. However, what the Museum of Modern Art attempted to do was very different. This is because the aim was to create virtual learning centres and gallery tours that could be conducted online through the block-based game.
An Innovative Project
Now launched, the project has introduced some unique approaches to virtual art that aims to help both students of art history as well as up-and-coming artists to learn more about some of the features of the gallery. The chief curator of the museum, Cauê Alves, said that the concept was built around breaking up the sort of spatial boundaries that exist at real-world exhibitions by taking an unconventional approach. “We expanded the museum’s performance… beyond the walls that surround it,” he said. Alves went on to add that the result, Minecraft: Education Edition, was a truly innovative and educational platform that everyone could use. Certainly, the gallery has been known for its innovation in the past. For example, it was one of the first galleries around to project images onto the building’s facade to attract attention.
Nevertheless, the use of Minecraft’s means that there are almost limitless possibilities. Therefore, the project needed to be guided so that it would not be a free-for-all but become a genuine educational tool. To help with that, the digital creators who rendered the virtual world of the gallery in cyberspace were asked to come up with specific ideas. After all, the game has been used to provide a raft of educational services in the past, so the one the museum was producing needed to work within some clearly defined parameters.
To help with this process, the Museum of Modern Art teamed up with a Brazilian creative agency, known as Agência Africa. Together, they have produced a short video about the Minecraft project that places emphasis on the educational potential of the game within the field of art. Not only does the game make exploration highly accessible in the digital age but the visual nature of the interaction lends itself to works of art. Directed by Rog Souza within the digital world of Minecraft, the video is essentially a walkthrough of many of the highlights at the gallery. Lazaro Ramos, an actor and Unicef goodwill ambassador, provided narration for a greater context of the artworks that are depicted in the video.
About the author – Manuel Charr
Manuel Charr is a journalist working in the arts and cultural sectors. With a background in marketing, Manuel is drawn to arts organizations which are prepared to try inventive ways to reach new audiences.