The museum M Leuven presents a Belgian first: you can watch Saint Peter’s Church burning, walk along with Jesus and his disciples and look from up close at the bones of the first Duke of Brabant. Or so it appears. Starting today it is possible to look at the artistic treasures of Saint Peter’s Church through HoloLens 2, a device with smart glasses showing you 3D images which only you can see.
Saint Peter’s Church in Leuven is a highlight of Brabantine Gothic style. After years of restoration the church can now be visited again in all its glorious splendour. M-Museum Leuven is in charge of preserving the church’s treasures, ‘The Last Supper’ by Flemish master Dieric Bouts serving as its most arresting work.
“Dieric Bouts, together with the Van Eyck brothers, is among the most important Flemish primitives and therefore a major representative of our cultural heritage. The HoloLens catapults you back to Leuven of the 1400s and lets you be part of 'The Last Supper', the absolute number one work by Bouts. Through this technological novelty, we bring the Flemish masters back to life more than ever”, according to Flemish minister of Tourism, Zuhal Demir.
From now on you can also visit the church while wearing the HoloLens 2, a smart glasses device developed by Microsoft. The device looks somewhat like a light, streamlined helmet-with-glasses. The helmet part comes with a computer, speakers and all sorts of built-in cameras, projection lenses and sensors. It is possible to project 3D images onto the glasses. You see these images in addition to the normal image of the setting you are in.
“The HoloLens allows us to create truly amazing experiences. This technology transforms the ways in which we work, learn, and game, as well as how we experience culture. It is mostly deployed in business or production settings, and it is used by such professionals as doctors, engineers and maintenance technicians. With the HoloLens technology they can work more ergonomically, let experts in another location identify some problem from a distance, do more efficient periodic maintenance and so on. This collaboration is exceptional because for once consumers will also be able to try out the HoloLens and experience the possibilities of this technology”, as Microsoft’s Nick Trogh puts it.
“Together with Studio Louter, M-Museum developed a unique and innovative visitor experience for the HoloLens: when standing in front of twelve first-rate artworks you get to see spectacular 3D images and animations. A good example is the beautiful triumphal cross above the altar, a masterpiece from around 1490 by sculptor Jan Borman II. It is located quite high up in the church, but the HoloLens allows you to see it right in front of you, at ground level. You can walk around it and look at it from all sides, while the device’s speakers offer you more explanation. A tour of Saint Peter’s Church thus turns into a unique experience, plunging you into the history of the artworks and the building. You can simply walk through ‘The Last Supper’ – our top treasure – along with Jesus and his disciples”, as curator Peter Carpreau explains.
At each of the twelve first-rate works you will also receive additional info at the end, which refers you to similar sights in Leuven and Flemish Brabant.
Denise Vandevoort, chairperson of M-Museum and Leuven’s alderman for culture and tourism: “For centuries Leuven has been a city where creation and innovation have an obvious presence and where art and science go hand in hand. It is no coincidence that recently Leuven was crowned as being Europe’s most innovative city. This is why we are glad to support initiatives in which heritage and new technology meet. The HoloLens 2 is a perfect example. From now on residents and visitors alike can explore our 15th-century Saint Peter’s Church with a 21st-century tool. Our city added another special attraction.”
Access to Saint Peter’s Church is free. The rate for a HoloLens visit is 12 euros. No interest in digital innovation? There is also a visitor guide available for 5 euros, as well as two self-guided family tours at a rate of 5 euros per family: one for children from age 4 and one for children from age 8.