'Virtually Versailles': A new immersive and interactive virtual reality experience takes visitors inside the 17th century French chateau

'Virtually Versailles': A new immersive and interactive virtual reality experience takes visitors inside the 17th century French chateau

Gilded dreams

Text: Aravin Sandran

Image: Thomas Garnier

Home to King Louis XVI and the infamous Queen Marie Antoinette before the French Revolution, the Palace of Versailles is one of the greatest sites of French art, culture and history dating back to the 17th Century. Now, for the first time ever, audiences in Singapore will get the opportunity to explore its gilded halls and manicured gardens with the help of highly immersive and interactive virtual reality technology. A joint initiative by the Palace of Versailles and ESSEC Business School, here are three exhibits to look out for at 'Virtually Versailles'.

The Nature of Versailles

Decorated with trompe-l'oeil 3D marble sculptures, hop on to a bicycle in this gallery and cycle through the enchanting Gardens of Versailles  virtually. Instead of breathing in exhaust fumes and dodging electric scooters on one of your ofo bike trips around the city, be inspired by the open-air sculpture museum through footage taken from a first-person perspective on the actual grounds synchronised to every pedal. Cycling on the actual grounds is strictly prohibited so visitors usually have to trek on-foot around the mammoth 6-hectare royal property.

Versailles' Splendours

Being a hot tourist destination, Versailles' Palace Rooms are often jam-packed with annoying tourists armed with selfie sticks. There'll be no jostling for that perfect IG snapshot here. Enjoy intimate 360-degree virtual views of the grand rooms, including The Mercury Room. Surrounded by LED-lit walls and ceiling, the room hosted historic turning points including displaying the coffin containing King Louis XIV in 1715.

Versailles Innovations

The exhibition comes to a spectacular conclusion at Ion Sky, starting with the Express Lift that features panoramic scenescapes of the palace from the ground up. On the 56th floor of ION Sky, fantastical fountain shows and magical fireworks kick off the exhibition's penultimate virtual reality experience courtesy of Google Cultural Institute and the Orange Foundation. For the first time, history comes to alive with decked-out members of the French Court offering guided tours and photobooths to capture "royal" portraits in the likeness of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. No IG filters required here.

'Virtually Versailles' is on view from 30 November 2018 to 6 January 2019 at ION Art Gallery and ION Sky in ION Orchard.

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