Exposition private Rembrandt enriched with VR

When Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1696) settled in Amsterdam around 1631, his career started to take flight. He became one of the most popular painters of his time. What we know about his private life can sometimes be derived from his art, but mainly from contemporary documents. Because the Amsterdam City Archives wants to make these original documents accessible to the larger public, they have enriched them with Augmented Reality. In doing so, the stories about Rembrandt’s clients, wives, children and money problems really come to life.

The City Archives Amsterdam possesses the largest collection of Rembrandt documents. Unfortunately, seventeenth-century writing is hard to read. Because of this, relatively few people know the stories about Rembrandt’s personal life. The documents, drawings and etchings have been made accessible, enriched with image and sound and digitally portrayed with art works from around the world. On 6 December 2018, the exposition ‘Private Rembrandt’ was opened amid great interest. Between 7 December 2018 and 7 April 2019, visitors were able to scan various original documents with an iPad, the Rembrandt-viewer.

Estate inventory and self-portraits
In the exposition, one of the topics of discussion is the painter’s bankruptcy. One of the ways this is addressed is through an estate inventory and an unpaid payment for his house in the Breestraat. With the Rembrandt-viewer you can scan the estate inventory that was compiled after his bankruptcy. Through the use of Augmented Reality you then get a sense of the various things that could be found in the art room.

Rembrandt painted a remarkable amount of self-portraits during his career. A special experience therefore is the time travel through Rembrandt’s self-portraits. The visitor scans the image on the wall and can then walk toward one of Rembrandt’s self-portraits. The experience starts with a young Rembrandt and ends at the showcase with one of his later self-portraits. It’s a nice example of the combination of heritage and newer technologies. This exposition about the private life of Rembrandt is part of the activities around the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death, in 2019.

Private Rembrandt - one of the winners of the call Field Lab Virtual Worlds
The project ‘Private Rembrandt’ of the Amsterdam City Archives and Synergique is one of the winning projects from the Field Lab Virtual Worlds. In this field lab Media Perspectives, the Meertens Instituut and the Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid bring together heritage institutions and VR, AR, and MR makers. This is an experiment co-ordinated by CLICKNL in which collaboration between VR AR and MR makers and the cultural sector is being explored.