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Museum opens up art collection to Animal Crossing fans

Getty Museum makes it easy to import more than 70,000 pieces of artwork

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Villagers look at paintings in a screenshot from Animal Crossing: New Horizons Image: Nintendo via the J. Paul Getty Museum

The Getty Center and Getty Villa in Los Angeles are closed to visitors as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but art lovers can visit the museum’s collection virtually, in a way, through Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The J. Paul Getty Museum’s collection, more than 70,000 artworks, can easily be imported into Animal Crossing, thanks to an open-source online tool and the Getty Museum’s open-access collection.

The Getty’s Animal Crossing Art Generator is easy to use. Just search for a piece of artwork (paintings, sculptures, drawings, etc.) in the museum’s collection, and it will generate a QR code that you can scan using the NookLink tool in the Nintendo Switch Online mobile app. The Getty based its online tool on the Animal Crossing Pattern Tool, which lets players create original patterns or convert existing images into patterns in a web browser.

The museum even has a selection of collection favorites, from artists such as Manet, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Cézanne, if you’re looking for something familiar (and quick).

Édouard Manet’s painting “Jeanne” imported as an Animal Crossing pattern
Édouard Manet’s “Jeanne” imported as an Animal Crossing pattern
Image: J. Paul Getty Museum

But if you’d like to do a deeper dive, expanding your search beyond the Getty’s own collection, the museum’s Animal Crossing Art Generator will also let you import artwork from other participating museums. All you need is to hunt down an IIIF (International Image Interoperability Framework)-compatible artwork from one of the institutions that participate in the program. For example, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery makes an IIIF manifest (a URL) easy to find, and I imported Kehinde Wiley’s 2018 portrait of President Barack Obama into the Animal Crossing Art Generator with a few clicks. You can find a list of participating museums at the IIIF website.

Of course, the low-res patterns of Animal Crossing: New Horizons don’t often do paintings justice, so sticking with something clear, recognizable, and high contrast over, say, a Jackson Pollack piece, will generate better results.

Check it out at the Getty’s website, until such time as Blathers decides to open a new wing at the Animal Crossing museum with painted and sculpted artworks.


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