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Director builds astonishing new art gallery from scratch during lockdown

Visitors now welcome.

Many museums have created online galleries during the pandemic. But Pere Izquierdo Tugas, director of the Consorci del Patrimoni de Sitges, in Catalonia, has gone one better, creating a complete virtual version of the exhibition centre itself.

Pere Izquierdo, 57, an archaeologist and art historian, loves technology. “I'm a digital native,” he says. “I started using a computer in 1975, at the age of 12". Thus, when he discovered KULTURA/Occupy White Walls (OWW), a new online art platform and game with 80,000 galleries already created by players, he realized that he had found the right place to give visibility to the museums he directs and the art collections in them.

“We have an interesting collection, but it's not well known,” he explains. "Visitors are surprised when they see it". He first thought OWW would be just a way to show the collection during the lockdown. He then realised it could be a permanent way to show the centre and its collections to a wider global audience.

OWW is built around its pioneering art discovery AI that 'finds art you'd like, even if you don't know what art you like’. This is how it has already attracted tens of thousands of ‘non-artsy’ gamers to engage with art and create their own virtual display spaces.

"Our mission is to spread art and OWW is an excellent opportunity to reach out to those who would love art but may not be very familiar with museums," continues Izquierdo. “We especially focus on young people, many of whom think that museums are sad and serious places. We must make them understand that we exist and make the works of art in our museums more popular ".

So he rolled up his sleeves and started building in his free time the environments of Sitges' museums by himself. Thus, was born a parallel architectural complex where you can spend a few hours among masterpieces of all times.

“First, we made a parallel version of the Sitges museums to show the paintings in rooms similar to the real ones.” I looked for the OWW elements most similar to those in reality, even if our decorations are very particular, so in part, it is my reworking. There are mosaics, stained glass windows, ceramics, freely inspired by those of real museums."

The online visit starts with the presentation in the Piazza dei Miracoli, one of the central places in the game. A short presentation tells the story of Sitges and its vocation to be an artistic and cultural centre. In an environment of great atmosphere, part of the square’s futuristic architecture, it is explained how, in 1891, Santiago Rusiñol, an artist of great charisma, first came to Sitges, a Catalan village near the sea, and created the cradle of Catalan Modernism. Rusiñol knew, and corresponded with, with all the great artists of Paris, from Toulouse-Lautrec to Degas.