LONDON – Five versions of a Vincent van Gogh masterpiece are being reunited for the first time Monday in a “virtual exhibition.”
Van Gogh painted his “Sunflowers” series in the south of France in 1888 and 1889. Five versions of the work reside in five different museums on three continents.
On Monday, they all will be streamed to a global audience in a Facebook Live broadcast.
The 1 hour and 35 minute broadcast begins in London’s National Gallery at 1650GMT (12:50 p.m. EDT.) It then continues at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, the Neue Pinakothek in Munich, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Tokyo’s Seiji Togo Memorial Museum of Art.
A curator from each museum will describe, in 15-minute segments, what makes their version unique.
The museums launched a virtual-reality experience last week that shows viewers all five “Sunflowers” in one room. The paintings are so treasured and such big draws it would be difficult to bring them together in real life.
“We’re at a moment in time where new kinds of experience are becoming possible for art galleries and museums all around the world,” Chris Michaels, the National Gallery’s digital director, said.
London’s version of “Sunflowers” is one of the museum’s most popular paintings.
It’s famous for its blue and yellow swirls, textured surface and rare glimpse into the happy times of Van Gogh’s life in Arles, France.
More than 50,000 viewers watched a preview for Monday’s event online.
Michaels is hopeful his team will bring more of the National Gallery’s famous pieces to online audiences. It’s an added attraction and a way to connect with other galleries.
“But it’s not a replacement,” he said. “It’s another type of thing that art museums can do and an amazing one for us to explore in the future, in partnership with amazing museums around the world.”