Hunt Museum Brings 500-Year-Old Painting to Life with Virtual Reality


 The Hunt Museum will host “Ride a Flying Fish”, a Virtual Reality experience that explores The Garden of Earthly Delights, a 500-year-old triptych by the Dutch painter by Hieronymus Bosch from Thursday 21 October until 24 December 2021.

Not only does the VR exhibition give visitors access to a renowned seminal work that resides in the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain, but the experience also allows people to feel as if they are stepping inside the intricate painting. Through the VR headset technology, viewers Ride a Flying Fish as they travel through each panel of the Garden of Earthly Delights. The journey begins at the Garden of Eden and proceeds through Earthly Delights before descending into hell.

Jill Cousins, Director and CEO Hunt Museum, said, “This is a new art experience for the Hunt Museum.  The idea of moving around inside an artwork and feeling it to be a living thing gives new insights and joy. The Garden of Earthly Delights is such a complex painting but with VR technology you get to dive deep into it; focussing on every little detail and almost becoming part of the painting.”

“Our VR exhibition offers a new way of experiencing art. Hieronymus Bosch was a painter of his time, whose influence reverberates down the centuries. Given his pioneering imagination and innovative approach to new media, it seems very fitting that our first foray into VR explores the alternative reality presented by Bosch”, continued Ms. Cousins.

The exhibition goes beyond VR to provide a completely immersive experience. A large-scale printed version of The Garden of Earthly Delights will be available to view, aspects of its symbolism drawn out and explained, and a film about Hieronymus Bosch will be on show.

Influence and Connections

Demonstrating the influence Bosch had on European art, The Hunt Museum has been able to draw connections to another triptych – this one owned by the museum. The triptych from a century later, A Painted Epitaph dates circa 1611. Unlike Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, this work was created as an altarpiece. Its iconography was intended, in a period of religious ferment, to be seen as either Catholic or Lutheran. Interestingly, both triptychs tell the story of the mental and spiritual torments endured by man and both have representations of St Anthony.

A very high-quality digital version of A Painted Epitaph will also be on display. The digitisation reveals much that is difficult to see with the naked eye including the Dutch proverb which translated means “Hurrah! Hurrah! If you get this!” – suggesting another potential link to Bosch and the riddles posed in his paintings.

Hieronymus Bosch (Jheronimus van Aken) was born c. 1450 into a family of painters and raised in the town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, from which he received his moniker. A painter of religious iconography, his fantastical, almost surreal scenes has made him one of the most important artists of the late medieval era.

Bosch’s best-known work is undoubtedly The Garden of Earthly Delights — his large-scale triptych depicting the corruption of mankind by sin believed to have been commissioned by members of the Nassau royal family in the early 16th century. It is thought that the triptych is meant to be read left to right showing first the presentation of Eve to Adam; second, the garden of the title depicting nude men and women indulging in sin; and third, man’s punishment in hell.

Exhibition Details

An experience not to be missed, this will be of particular interest to art lovers, historians, tourists, students as well as gamers and tech enthusiasts.

Tickets are €10 or just €12.50 to see the exhibition and entire Hunt Museum collection. Children go free. 

Ride a Flying Fish Exhibition runs from 21 October to 24 December 2021. The Hunt Museum, The Custom House. Rutland Street. Limerick, V94 EV8A. Co. Limerick. Tel: +353 (0)61 312 833. Email: [email protected].


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