European art should be taken seriously, but that doesn’t mean that it should be boring! Artist René van Engelenburg thought of a way of presenting European cultural heritage in an innovative and fun way. VR proved to be the perfect way of giving its deserved attention. We created a virtual city for this experience, which is filled with European art and buildings.

Virtual journey through European cultural heritage

#BigArtRide is a new cultural media project: a virtual ride through European cultural heritage, which helps building bridges between Europeans in an innovative and fun way. The set up consists out of two (stationary) bicycles, that are connected to the Virtual Reality experience and Virtual Reality glasses. One of the bicycles is stationed in the Netherlands, where the other bicycle will tour European cities from April to June 2016. The contesters can see each other’s avatar during the race.

The cyclists will race to each other in a virtual city, where European art and buildings can be admired. Not a relaxing ride but quite a competitive ride, since Europeans will race live to each other in this networked multiplayer gaming. The goal of the experience is to be the quickest rider crossing Europe by bicycle. However, the experience serves a bigger goal: connecting Europe, its art and its people.

Virtual Reality bicycles

The real bicycles ‘fuel’ the virtual bicycles: driving faster will make the virtual bicycle go faster as well. The audience can influence the race and help the cyclist by pumping the giant bicycle pump or by ringing the giant bicycle bell: this will slow the opponent down or stimulate the ‘home team’. A special feature is the falling paintings that have to be avoided, this element adds complexity to the race. The contesters will see each other live after finishing the #BigArtRide by a video stream.

Construction of the #BigArtRide

The speed and direction of the bicycle are determined by sensors of the ‘physical bicycle’, these provide the input to the virtual bicycle. An extra axle is placed behind the rear tire of the bike, that is connected to a motor. This axle will make cycling heavier when competitors hinder the cyclist by pumping the bicycle pump or by ringing the bicycle bell. The stationary bicycle set up was realized and constructed by 100%FAT.



The #BigArtRide is an initiative of Europeana, and is part of their Europeana 280 campaign. Europeana enables people to explore the digital resources of Europe’s galleries, museums, libraries, archives and audiovisual collections. Parties such as DROPSTUFF.nl with artist René van Engelenburg, who came up with the original concept, guided the project and was head contractor, and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision and Embassies of the Kingdom of The Netherlands across Europe played a vital role in the design and completion of the project. We are pleased to make our contribution to this project!


Dutch Presidency of the EU

The #BigArtRide was initiated to honor the Dutch Presidency of the EU and is part of the Europeana 280 campaign to give people across Europe the chance to take a virtual journey through European cultural heritage. Do you want to test the VR experience yourself? Take a look at this page to see the dates and locations.

This experience reminds us of Photopolis that we created for the Dutch National Archives. Here, people are guided through a city that is made from photo collections. Curious to see what VR can do for you? Contact us and we can have a chat!

UPDATE: The #BigArtRide has been a big success!

Unfortunately, the #BigArtRide has come to an end. From April 14th till July 3rd, a lot of Europeans hopped on the bike and made a virtual tour through European heritage. During these months, we’ve connected Europe’s major capitals with a virtual bike ride. It was a great success! Europeana: “It has been an amazing journey filled with artworks contributed by cultural institutions from across Europe.”

Want to see what it’s like to race a bike in virtual reality? Check the movie below!

Want to learn more, or experience what Virtual Reality can do for you? - Contact us!