The Finnish National Gallery’s virtual exhibition, being launched in October 2023, takes the viewer deeper into the imaginary world of Hugo Simberg. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Simberg’s birth. This unique exhibition includes Simberg’s light-sensitive, gouache on paper works that would be difficult to exhibit traditionally.
The works on display were created in the late 1890s when Simberg was at the start of his artist journey, studying in Ruovesi under Akseli Gallen-Kallela and travelling to London, Paris and Italy. The exhibition includes Simberg’s most beloved works from the collections of the Finnish National Gallery, such as Kuoleman puutarha (The Garden of Death, 1896) and Halla (Frost, 1895). The exhibition was curated by Marja Lahelma, PhD.
For the Finnish National Gallery, the exhibition is an important step in experimenting with how artworks from the collection can be exhibited to the public in new ways in the future. A virtual environment allows for examining the details in small original works in an enlarged size and without many of the physical world’s limitations. Simberg’s gouache works can only be exhibited for brief periods of time. The virtual exhibition allows for studying the works from the comfort of the patron’s living room.
The exhibition is built for the Oculus Meta Quest 2 VR headset, and it has also been used as the basis for a browser-based version for Digimuseo that does not require a VR headset. The exhibition will also be on display at the Pop and Contemporary Art Museum PoCo in Tallinn from November 6 to February 29, 2024. The Finnish National Gallery has partnered with production company Donkey Hotel Ltd and animation studio Talking Animals to implement the exhibition.
Hugo Simberg is one of the most important artists of Finnish symbolism. Myths, fairy tales and the imagination provided Simberg with a new type of art language that allowed expressing complex and complicated thoughts or emotions. The meanings of the artworks, which are in part naive in style, are not reduced to one interpretation; they always contain several overlapping layers and levels.
Director of Digital National Gallery programme
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Digital Content Producer
Browser-based version available at: https://digimuseo.fi/en/exhibitions/the-world-of-hugo-simberg/
VR version available at: https://shorturl.at/tyAP7
Official trailer: https://youtu.be/-EVQZZkzyG8
The Finnish National Gallery consists of the Ateneum Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and the Sinebrychoff Art Museum. The Finnish National Gallery is in charge of the Finnish State Art Collection, which the Finnish National Gallery’s Collections Management Department maintains. The Finnish State Art Commission and its collections are also part of the Finnish National Gallery.
The Digital National Gallery programme is a platform for new experiences with art. It tests new operational models and service concepts, pilots digitalart adventures and scouts for resulting business opportunities. The programme also investigates what block chain technology can introduce to the art field and how the opportunities that Web 3 provides can be accompanied by activities related to art, culture and museums.