The Mona Lisa in virtual reality in your own home


23 February 2021

‘Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass’ – the Louvre’s first virtual reality project – uses the latest scientific research on Leonardo da Vinci, his creative processes and his painting techniques.

The first VR experience of the Mona Lisa

When a painting is as famous as the Mona Lisa, how can you engage with it on a personal level – get through the barrier of fame to discover its inner secrets? This VR experience is a means of doing just that. ‘The Mona Lisa is fated never to be seen again the way she should be, i.e. face to face. That’s the price of success; like any celebrity, as soon as she appears, everyone wants to see her!’ says Vincent Delieuvin, co-curator of the 2020 Leonardo da Vinci show.

This immersive VR experience, part of the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in 2020, is also available on smartphone.

'Like any celebrity, as soon as she appears, everyone wants to see her!'

Vincent Delieuvin

The woman behind the painting

What remains to be said about the Mona Lisa? How can we move beyond the myths about this ultra-famous artwork? ‘Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass’ sets out to dispel the folklore and tell the real story. This eight-minute VR experience is based on the knowledge compiled by exhibition curators Louis Frank and Vincent Delieuvin after a decade of research in preparation for the landmark 2020 exhibition. 

The experience begins in the Salle des États in today’s Louvre, face to face with the painting of the Mona Lisa. It then takes us on a journey back in time to the original setting, where we meet the real woman da Vinci painted! Mona Lisa – or Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo – comes to life, and shows us how her outfit was made, how her hair was styled... 

The secrets of ‘sfumato’

Leonardo da Vinci used some specific techniques that have contributed to his fame but are not necessarily understood. The VR experience gives a detailed view of his painting processes and shows how they brought his work to life. We also find ourselves in the loggia where Mona Lisa might have been sitting when she was painted. ‘We took our inspiration for the loggia from a drawing by Leonardo, an extraordinary villa with a belvedere [and placed it] above the large landscape in the painting. And a surprise awaits you at the end!’ says Louis Frank, co-curator of the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in 2020.

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