If you’re an art history or modern art fanatic and you’ve always loved visiting art galleries, but you never seem to have enough time (or money!) to see them all, you may be in luck. One museum — the Tate Britain — is currently using remote-controlled robots to bring their galleries into the homes of art enthusiasts. And what makes the five-day event even cooler? The robots only offer nighttime tours of the galleries.
The project, called Tate After Dark, starts at 5 p.m. Eastern time (10 p.m. London time) and runs from August 13-17. There are four robots that roam around the galleries, controlled remotely and with cameras at eye-level, and each robot has seven sonar sensors and a hardware encoder with which users control it through the museum. The robots aren’t able to navigate the halls alone, so users are responsible for driving the robots through the museum using the arrow keys on their computer keyboards, and every few minutes, the robots will switch users remotely (and even if you don’t get a chance to drive the robots, you can still participate by watching on a livestream). Not only does this event give art enthusiasts a chance to see some remarkable pieces of art in an environment rarely allowed for public viewings (i.e., being able to view the pieces at night), but it gives users all over the world a chance to feel as though they’re really inside the museum.
The robots were developed by a group that seemingly has nothing to do with the art world — in order to put on this event, the Tate worked in collaboration with the space research firm RAL Space and a London-based consulting group, The Workers. Certainly, few people ever imagined that art would ever be viewed in this way — but it just goes to show that even the most basic items we have laying around the house can be used to bring even the farthest corners of the world into our homes.
If you missed the event, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for similar events like this. Although it doesn’t seem as though the Tate has plans to hold the event again in the near future, the success of this program might just be enough to influence other museums and art galleries to follow suit.