Sansar, Intel, and the Smithsonian Institution Present the Art of Burning Man

Today it was announced that Sansar and Intel have created a faithful reproduction of the art of No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, which is an exhibit currently on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. VentureBeat reports:

The VR exhibit is part of the Smithsonian’s mission to reach a billion people with its art, and virtual reality is one of the ways that the museum will accomplish that mission, said Nora Atkinson, who was in Washington D.C. but still managed to do an interview with me and another reporter inside the Sansar VR space. She showed us through the museum, which we could view in 360 degrees. I was at Linden Lab’s headquarters in San Francisco for the demo, while Atkinson was across the country. Yet I could hear her and see her animated character, or avatar, as we walked around in the 3D space in virtual reality.

“What’s different about VR is you can go up to a work of art and get right next to it or touch it,”said Atkinson, Lloyd Herman curator of craft at the Renwick Gallery, said. “That’s not something you can do in the museum.”

Intel’s press release adds:

Intel and the Smithsonian American Art Museum* (SAAM) will allow audiences to take an immersive dive into some of the country’s most treasured art and history through virtual reality (VR). Together, they will transform the future of education and the museum experience by digitizing and providing broader 3D access to collections from SAAM and its branch museum, the Renwick Gallery*, starting with the exhibition, “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man.”

“Virtual reality will bring about cutting-edge computing experiences and accelerate new possibilities for how people will explore and interact with the world around them. As the technology evolves, immersive museum experiences will become the norm. Bridging physical and digital worlds to study American art in classrooms around the globe is just a first step in exploring what is possible when we combine the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s passion for education with Intel’s innovation.”
– John Bonini, vice president and general manager, VR, Gaming & Esports at Intel Corporation

This partnership, introduced at VRLA in Los Angeles, will begin with the Renwick Gallery’s current exhibition, “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man,” to showcase how Intel technology and virtual reality will transform the future of the museum experience. The ultimate vision is to share this technology across the Smithsonian Institution and further digitize more of its 157 million objects.

Intel’s advanced technologies will accelerate SAAM’s existing process of 3D digital capture and increase access to its collections with the help of powerful 8th Generation Intel Core processors, cloud-based platforms and more. The shared goal is to increase and encourage 24/7 access to the museum, affording educators, other museums and public audiences the opportunity to become immersed in some of America’s most treasured collections as if they were standing in the galleries themselves.

(It does seem rather odd to me that Sansar is only mentioned once in the entire Intel press release about their partnership with the Smithsonian.)

Here are a few pictures from the new Sansar experience, which is called No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man.

Smithsonian 4 23 July 2018Smithsonian 2 23 July 2018Smithsonian 1 23 July 2018

In a nice touch, a corridor off to one side of one of the galleries actually teleports you to the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, where you can see some of these Burning Man artworks in their original setting:

Smithsonian 3 23 July 2018.png

I look forward to further exhibits by the Smithsonian Institution in Sansar, as a result of their new partnership with Intel! I leave you with a short promotional video for the project, featuring Jason Gholston, Linden Lab’s Head of Sansar Studios:

NOTE: You can install the Sansar software client, if you don’t already have it, at And then you can visit and explore this experience by searching for “Smithsonian” in the Sansar Atlas, or just by clicking this link: No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man.

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