Missing museums? Me too!
During this time, I’ve been browsing Google Arts & Culture’s virtual museum tours. While scrolling, I found a game highlighted on their homepage that intrigued me. The game is called Spot the Swan at the Rijksmuseum, and the description reads, “Become an art-detective and scour the halls of Amsterdam’s famous museum to discover its greatest treasures.” The graphic used caught my eye because it was a beautifully painted swan; it reminded me of a painting I studied in high school.
For AP Art History, we took a field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago, and I was assigned Frans Snyder’s Still Life with Dead Game, Fruits, and Vegetables in a Market (1614) to find and present to the class. The painting looks exactly like the title—a little traumatic, as there are dead animals sprawled across a seemingly endless table. The piece is huge and takes up a whole wall of the European Painting and Sculpture gallery.
But, I digress—this game was intriguing to me because it was advertised as a ‘scavenger hunt,’ much like my AP Art History project. I’ve never been to the Rijksmuseum, so I thought it would be cool to explore it virtually. The Rijksmuseum of art and history opened in 1885 and is located in Amsterdam. As the game begins, the player is shown four paintings scattered throughout the museum that are to be located. These include Still Life with a Gilt Cup (Willem Claesz. Heda), The Milkmaid (Johannes Vermeer), The Night Watch (Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn) and The Threatened Swan (Jan Asselijn).
First, you enter the museum’s main hallway and are encouraged to click around to find the paintings. The game gives you a few hints, but if you can’t find it, you can just scroll down and it will show you the painting in high-definition. Throughout the game, you are taken through the museum and given background information on each piece. This is something I haven’t seen in many other virtual tours. I enjoyed that this game felt guided and clearly provided information instead of requiring the viewer to explore unaccompanied. Since you aren’t there in person, it helps to have some guidance along the way.
I also enjoyed that this focused on four paintings. It was enough to keep the game short and engaging. However, the title made it sound like I was going to be looking for swan paintings and that was not the case. Sure, we got to see one swan painting, but I liked the idea of a themed scavenger hunt that would tie the various swan interpretations together. What’s a girl gotta do to get a virtual swan scavenger hunt? With that said, it is my only true critique of the game. Overall, I really enjoyed this game; it was fun and I feel like I learned a lot about the pieces in the scavenger hunt.
Google Arts & Culture always has a great selection of virtual experiences, exhibits and collections—I thoroughly enjoy browsing their page to see their newly uploaded content. They also have very high-quality images of art that allow the viewer to see some of the subtle details (see Still Life with a Gilt Cup)!
Currently, Google Arts & Culture seems to be curating content for those looking to experience art while in quarantine. Another highlight on their homepage that caught my eye was the “Music + Art” section that features virtual tours and slideshows set to classical music with tags like ‘relax’ and ‘meditate’. This is definitely a resource I will visit again!
Follow this link to check out the scavenger hunt: