LONDON.-Eurostar and the National Gallery today (22nd April 2008) unveiled the world’s first interactive digital art gallery for international travellers, to be enjoyed by millions of people who pass through the high-speed rail gateway between the UK and mainland Europe.
Located within Eurostar’s departure lounge at St Pancras International, the STATION MASTERS interactive gallerygives travellers unprecedented access to some of the nation’s best-loved works of art, within the unique setting of the magnificently restored, Grade 1 listed station which was opened by Her Majesty the Queen last November.
The cutting-edge system invites users to explore a database of 100 highlights from the National Gallery’s collection of Western European painting, including masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, Titian, Holbein, Caravaggio, Constable, Van Gogh and Monet.
Travellers simply choose which painting they want to view by taking a sofa-style seat at one of six tailor-made, touch-screen coffee tables. After searching the database, the picture they select is displayed on one of six free-standing plasma screens situated within the brick archways that run along the eastern wall of the departure lounge, thus creating a constantly evolving art gallery for fellow travellers.
STATION MASTERS is designed to inspire travellers of all ages and includes several interactive tools to explore the paintings. Users can zoom in on a chosen picture to discover hidden details and artistic secrets that are often impossible to see in a conventional gallery setting. In the case of The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck (1434), zooming in on the tiny circular mirror on the far wall reveals a remarkable reflected scene being played out behind the artist’s viewpoint.
The featured collection of paintings includes celebrated National Gallery masterpieces such as ‘The Rokeby Venus’ by Velázquez and Whistlejacket by George Stubbs, and is arranged into eight enduring themes: Love, Identity, Light, Celebration, Discovery, Passion, Peace and Time. A descriptive text - available in English, French and Flemish – accompanies each painting and links it to one of the central themes.
Travellers can also use STATION MASTERS to send an e-card of a favourite painting to friends or relatives with a short message before departure. The use of STATION MASTERS is entirely free of charge.
Eurostar’s Commercial Director, Nick Mercer, said: “St Pancras International is a 19th century architectural wonder restored for 21st century use. Now some of the most historic paintings in Britain can also be re-enjoyed and re-examined in a totally new way, using this latest digital technology.
“Station Masters makes travelling by Eurostar an even more enjoyable experience, and yet further enhances one of the greatest station buildings in the world. It is a very user-friendly innovation that makes great art accessible for travellers of all ages and nationalities.”
The Director of the National Gallery, Dr Nicholas Penny, said: “The National Gallery is delighted to be working with Eurostar on the implementation of Station Masters and further enhancing the hugely successful transformation of St Pancras International.
“Eurostar wanted to give this terminal a clear identity rooted in London’s rich cultural offering. What better way to do this than to enable travellers to immerse themselves in some of the greatest paintings in Western European art from the National Gallery’s collection?"