The Metropolitan Museum of Art has replicated iconic masterpieces from its collection in Nintendo's video game "Animal Crossing: New Horizons". Image: Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

LEGO, video games… How the art market is conquering millennial audiences

July 14th, 2020

While the arts and culture industry is estimated to have lost billions due to the coronavirus pandemic, cultural institutions are turning to video games and toys to appeal to a new generation of potential museum-goers.

Although museums and galleries are only accessible to a limited number of visitors at the moment, art professionals have turned to video games to reimagine how art can be shared in a socially-distant world.

animal crossing

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has replicated iconic masterpieces from its collection in Nintendo’s video game “Animal Crossing: New Horizons”. Image: Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Manchester International festival unveiled earlier this month the first installment of its new digital series, “Virtual Factory,” for which international artists have drawn inspiration from the festival’s future home and £110 million arts center, Factory.

While the Rem Koolhaas-designed building is currently under construction in Manchester, the Factory has been virtually recreated by avatar artist and curator LaTurbo Avedon on an island in “Fortnite Creative“.

Visitors of the “Your Progress Will Be Saved” virtual installation can either play on “Fortnite”, take a guided tour of the building with LaTurbo on the festival’s Twitch channel, or choose their own adventure in an adapted journey on the Virtual Factory website.

Meanwhile, “Occupy White Walls” gives gamers the opportunity to build their own gallery space and choose from a library of around 7,000 artworks to hang on their virtual walls, many drawn from public-domain collections.

Users of the virtual exhibition space and multiplayer game can be assisted by “Daisy”, an artificial intelligence-based “assistant curator”, which analyzes data about which works have already been selected by other players.

Since its launch in November 2018, “Occupy White Walls” has attracted some 50,000 users, a fifth of whom signed up during these past few months in self-isolation according to the New York Times.

While real-life cultural institutions have designed their own virtual tours amidst the coronavirus pandemic, some of them have also taken upon themselves to recreate iconic artworks in Nintendo’s much talked-about “Animal Crossing: New Horizons”.

The Getty Center has created an “Animal Crossing Art Generator“, allowing players to easily turn any piece in its collection into a pattern that can be used in the highly-popular life simulation video game.

Similarly, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has generated QR codes for its entire collection of more than 406,000 open-access images, so the artworks can easily decorate islands and homes within “Animal Crossing: New Horizons”/

As galleries and art institutions are trying their best to digitize their collections amidst the pandemic, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has collaborated with LEGO to give art aficionados the opportunity to build their own home museum.

Andy Warhol’s silkscreen portrait of Marilyn Monroe has been adapted into a new LEGO ART set, whose 3,332 pieces can be “reimagined in a number of different ways to express the personality of each different builder.”

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