On March 18th, 1990 thieves broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and stole several invaluable masterpieces. 28 years later, the frames remain empty.
The total value of the 13 stolen artworks is more than $500 million, making this heist the largest art theft in history. To this day, the case remains unsolved and frames which once held masterpieces by world’s most renowned artists are left empty on the walls… until now.
Inspired by the anniversary of the heist and our love for this local museum, we decided to put our technology to use. Leveraging augmented reality, we’ve digitally placed the stolen art pieces back in their frames.
We wish for the safe return of the stolen art, but in the meantime, we hope this project instills feelings of wonder, hope, and inspiration.
New technology has made it possible to layer visual content over the real world.
With the power of augmented reality, we saw the opportunity to put the stolen art back where they belong.
We realized that many visitors to the museum either had no idea about the heist or didn't know what the looted works looked like.
As technologists and lovers of culture, we asked ourselves: how could we help visitors see what is no longer there? Using AR, supercharged by Apple's ARKit, we were able to make this a reality.
Over days and nights of on-site testing, our experimentation caught the attention of visitors from all over the world who were mesmerized and excited to see the masterpieces that once filled the now empty frames.
We hope projects like this inspire people to think of how art and technology intersect, how precious our world's culture is, and how fortunate we are to have institutions that preserve, protect, and make works available for the public to enjoy.
The Museum is offering a $10 million reward for information leading to the recovery of the stolen works.
If you have any information, contact the museum directly.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a museum located Boston, MA. It houses an art collection of world importance, including significant examples of European, Asian, and American art, from paintings and sculpture to tapestries and decorative arts.
We encourage you to visit the museum!