MUVAMUVA (Museo Virtual de Artes – El Pais) is a virtual art museum for contemporary art from Uruguay. It’s been on the web for a number of years. I’m not sure exactly when it debuted, but it predates the virtual spaces in virtual worlds like Second Life by a good bit.

The museum is an online gallery, with rotating shows of various artists, that is arranged in a 3-D virtual space that you can “walk though” using links in the interface. Hovering your mouse over parts of the interface, or on control buttons, allows you to navigate through the gallery spaces in which previews of the works are arranged like paintings hanging on the virtual walls of the museum. Clicking directly on a work allows you to view a larger image of the work in much the same way you would in a standard online gallery. A small map in the interface shows you your position and orientation within the museum’s floors and galleries.

There is a relatively new Flash version now to compliment the original HTML version (shown here). Try a little of both to see which you prefer, depending on the speed of your connection. Both versions are offered in either Spanish or English. When in doubt, there is a help feature at the bottom of the interface and if you become impatient, use the Site Map.

This arrangement is obviously not as efficient as regular thumbnail-and-enlargement online galleries, but sometimes, particularly when viewing art, efficiency is not the point. The 3-D environment is convincing and consistent enough to give you a feeling of taking some time to wander through a real museum, with it’s attendant “Let’s see what’s in this gallery.” sense of exploration.

Overall the effect is clever and entertaining in it own right, leading you to perhaps spend some time with some artists that you might not be familiar with or seek out under other circumstances.


One Reply to “MUVA”

  1. Thank you so much for writing about MUVA in your blog. I am the project manager and director, and I created the projec back in 1996, the idea of having a virtual building was mine, because we do not have financial resources to build a new museum in Uruguay. Also the collections are poor.I am a curator and have been frustrated all my life. Of course I needed and need experts in computing, virtual design, Internet, architects and photographers. It is a low cost project because most of us are employed already by a newspaper El Pais ( I am an art critic there) and EL Pais has a site.
    In this museum, in both version, visitors can see many works of art that are in private collections or in artists studios and at least see it in modern buildings, nice and clean, with elevators and escalators. There is a lot of information, it means to be like a art history class for college students, both for locals and for the foreigners because we also have not too much visibility in foreign countries due to the lack of financial resources although we have very good art. The text are written by me in the first version and in the second by me and by many other curators and art historians. In the second version there are videos, voices, music, interaction and many opinions by the artists themselves etc.
    It was created ten years before Second Life and very early in the history of Internet and the concept is non profit, educational and more intellectual. Everything was done in Uruguay with local people and with no external consulting and no company, just us with the suppor of the newspaper.
    Well, in any case I invite the reader to visit it and give their own opinion. The new version is much more developed now and much more contemporary and it is growing with new exhibitions.

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