arts and cultures

WBU: from imaginary museum to ideal museum

3.6 %: This is the share of the world's population that was able to visit a museum this year. In France, this represents 39% of the population; this is far from being the case everywhere!
In order to give access to the museum and to make the artistic discovery live again throughout the world, a place has been created which is nowhere to be found. It is a virtual reality museum, accessible to all since its opening on December 5, everywhere, all the time, and free of charge: the WBU, Universal Museum of Art.
I call an imaginary museum the totality of what people can know today even if they are not in a museum, i.e. what they know through reproductions, (...) libraries", André Malraux.
André Malraux told Picasso "that the real place of the Imaginary Museum is necessarily a mental place" (The Obsidian HeadParis, 1974), while paraphrasing without his knowledge, no doubt, Leonardo da Vinci for whom "painting is a mental thing". (mental cosa) The Imaginary Museum is a mental phenomenon that results from a cumulative and visual experience. It is a domain of forms that inhabits us. It is a space devoid of physical existence, existing only by and in the mind of the spectator and materializing by a visible proposal, the edited photograph...". Prescient Manifesto of the Digital Age?
André Malraux and the photos chosen to illustrate his Musée Imaginaire

From the imaginary museum of André Malraux, we arrive today at the virtual museum. WBU, for Universal Museum of Art, aims to become the largest museum in the world in less than two years, for everyone, everywhere, all the time, free of charge. Equipped with a computer, a tablet, a smartphone, or an RV headset, a visit to the museum has never been easier.
Will this space achieve the impossible by bringing together the frescoes of Pompeii, the mosaics of North Africa, the baroque ceilings with the gothic gargoyles; so many confrontations and conversations that virtual reality offers?
WBU wants to serve the integrity of art: places that have disappeared, are inaccessible, looted, damaged or destroyed regain their radiance; groups of dispersed works regain their unity; works in danger are perpetuated.
It also wants to enrich the visit: to accompany these discoveries, cartels and enriched contents are available to the visitor. Thematic headings tell the story of each work, its movement, its historical period, and many other aspects.
A museum shop invites you to discover a selection of cultural products and an online bookshop.
Art and culture have the vocation to penetrate the daily life of everyone. WBU's discourse is intended to be simple, attractive and pedagogical, and to go beyond the constraints of academism. It seeks the right balance between seriousness and simplicity. WBU's language highlights, and within everyone's reach, the parallels between civilizations and artistic periods.
The codes of popular culture have been borrowed from so-called classical culture, and vice versa. There is no hierarchy of genres, so there can be no vertical teaching. The dissemination of art must have a horizontal approach that brings all discourses into dialogue. WBU is built on this conviction.

The role with museums

For centuries, museums have preserved and passed on our cultural heritage. Today, technology and the Internet make it possible to give a new dimension to this mission.
Museums are running out of space. A large part of their collections are in reserves that are inaccessible to the public. In virtual reality, displays and configurations are unlimited; geographical and practical constraints are fading.
Museums lack digital and international visibility. Developing the image of museums in our modern age implies tough competition where attractiveness is vital; with UMA, it becomes possible for museums to broaden their audience and increase their visibility, thanks to dematerialized and globalized traffic.
WBU does not intend to replace the museum, but to disseminate its image and strengthen the affirmation of its current relevance; it is a centralizing and complementary role that WBU will be able to play with existing museums.
The contact with the physical work is unique and irreplaceable. But WBU brings about this contact by starting by making the work accessible to all, in a virtual, lively and entertaining environment. The reproduction of a work can move, intrigue and excite, just as listening to a CD makes us want to go to a concert.
The museum is one of the places that give the highest idea of man. "André Malraux, 1947

Virtual reality in culture

Virtual reality has infiltrated many areas of culture: it now represents a force that should not be underestimated, and that can only grow. The largest companies are involved in virtual reality. Google is putting its Google Street View technology at the service of cultural institutions; HTC is collaborating with the Tate Modern to recreate the environment of Amedeo Modigliani; Snapchat is placing monumental contemporary sculptures in cities in augmented reality; the BBC is opening a virtual reality studio.
WBU is positioning itself with a new project: art and its history are little known, even feared for their academicism. Extensive and high-quality programming, enriched content and an attractive pedagogical environment are the key to making culture accessible on the Internet.
WBU's ideal is the simple and timeless ideal of sharing and transmitting beauty. Ptolemy I and the Mouseion of Alexandria; the Roman collections of Greek and Egyptian copies; the court of Genghis Khan; the 17th century paper museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo; the 18th century English and Dutch cabinets of curiosities; the Egyptian and Italian campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte; the imaginary museum of André Malraux, and now the Louvre in Abu Dhabi : all of them have carried the desire to bring together eras and cultures in one place and to erect a temple to Beauty in all its forms, wherever they come from.
Art makes community. It is the only true transcultural language; it shapes our memories and our posterity. The museum is its rallying point. As such, the museum's vocation is to be the ultimate gathering place for our civilizations in search of meaning and universality.

Architecture without constraints

The museum buildings are architectural gems of ancient and modern architecture. In order to recreate a familiar experience, the experience of visiting the WBU Museum collaborates with contemporary architects to create buildings that match the height of the collections housed; buildings without constraints, exclusively virtual.
WBU is therefore launching a virtual architecture competition. In January 2018, architecture students from around the world will be invited to create one or more drawings of a museum building. This building will have to remain faithful to its museum use, while remaining unfaithful to its architectural constraints. The winner's design will be fully funded to become the first museum in virtual reality.

First exhibition: The Founding Myths, illustrated by masters from antiquity to the present day

The first major virtual exhibition will be devoted to five of humanity's great founding myths:
- Valmiki's Ramayana, illustrated by the Indian miniature
- Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, illustrated by Mimmo Paladino
- Virgil's Aeneid, illustrated by frescoes and ancient mosaics
- Ovid's Metamorphoses, illustrated by Baroque painting
- The Apocalypse of Saint John, illustrated by the tapestry of Angers
Curator : Diane de Selliers, with the support of Editions Diane de Selliers, embodying humanist values of universalism, openness and respect.
In virtual reality, the visitor travels between cultures and myths, images and texts. The Indian miniatures of the Ramayana dialogue with the drawings of the contemporary Italian artist Mimmo Paladino, representative of the Italian trans-avant-garde. The ancient frescoes and mosaics illustrating the Aeneid resonate alongside the baroque painting depicting Ovid's Metamorphoses; while the hangings of the Angers Tapestry, a masterpiece of medieval art, radiate in an original scenography.
To be discovered from 5 December 2017 on
Complete programming :
- Les Mythes Fondateurs, illustrated by masters from Antiquity to the present day", curated by Diane de Selliers, art book publisher. Opening December 5, 2017
- A History of Street Art", Opening in February 2018.
- Le Romantisme noir", Opening in April 2018
- Les images cachées dans la peinture du XIXe siècle", Opening in June 2018
- Looted masterpieces" Opening in September 2018.

Created in August 2017, WBU brings together diverse and complementary profiles:
- Jean Vergès, President Entrepreneur rêver, art historian Benjamin Hélion, WBU Ambassador Serial Entrepreneur, co-founder of Sisso (digital cultural communication agency, specialist in the creation of virtual tours)
-Benjamin Lanot, Director of Strategy Strategy at HEC, co-founder of Sisso -Damien Jacq, Technical Director Engineer at the Ecole des Mines, co-founder of Sisso
- Mathilde Louette, Head of Student Development at the ENS, in love with arts and letters.

Photo: Detail from Homer's The Iliad and the Odyssey, illustrated by Mimmo Paladino

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