Stephen Mangan launches art gallery of the future

Actor and presenter Stephen Mangan has officially opened The Augmented Gallery in Londons West End – an opportunity for masterpieces to be displayed outdoors through an augmented reality lens. 

This marks the launch of Art of London – a new cultural initiative for the West End and the start of a season of public art for the area.

Appearing outside the National Gallery, Mangan revealed a life-sized augmented reality version of Anthony van Dyck’s ‘Equestrian Portrait of Charles I’, one of twenty masterpieces the public will be able to experience across a mile-long, free, and accessible outdoor trail.

The Art of London Augmented Gallery is a unique collaboration between the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts and Sky Arts. Each have contributed a diverse selection of pieces, so that people can once again enjoy art in a safe and innovative way. 

To take part, users need to download the Art of London Augented Gallery app. Each of the colourful frames and plaques along the trail contain QR codes and unique markers to unlock the timeless masterpieces framed in 3D. The app also supplies audio commentaries on each classic painting, along with a lighter touch from comedian and art lover James Acaster and Stephen Mangan himself. 

“We are delighted to be taking part in The Augmented Gallery, as it gives us the chance to showcase some of the Nation’s favourite paintings out in the open for everyone to enjoy,” said Director of the National Gallery, Dr Gabriele Finaldi.

“By bringing a series of masterpieces to the West End through the lens of augmented reality, visitors to the area can enjoy a taste of the treasures we have inside the National Gallery. And of course, everyone is welcome to book their free tickets into the Gallery – just a few steps away – to experience the real paintings from when we, hopefully, are able to reopen our doors from 17 May.”