The World of Hugo Simberg

October 2023

I worked as part of the Donkey Hotel team in creating a virtual showcase experience featuring works by Hugo Simberg and the stories behind them.

As of April 2024 the experience is available for web browsers through Digimuseo and for Meta Quest Extended Reality (XR) headsets through App Lab.

Quoting from the Digimuseo page:

Hugo Simberg is one of the most important artists of Finnish symbolism. Myths, fairy tales and imagination gave Simberg a new artistic language. It made it possible to express difficult and complex ideas as well as emotions. […]

This unique virtual exhibition presents Simberg’s light-sensitive, paper-based gouache paintings, which are subject to many limitations when displayed in a traditional exhibition space. […]

The virtual environment allows the details of small-scale original works to be viewed at a much larger size and presented in an environment that does not follow the laws of the physical world. 


Many large museums have to keep masterpieces stowed away and seems like the Finnish National Gallery (FNG) is no exception. However, in addition to bringing Simberg’s rarely-seen works to the public, FNG wanted to provide an extraordinarily delightful experience by showcasing them in an environment that itself is a Simberg-inspired piece of art.

To realize this vision, a collaboration was established between FNG, the German animation studio Talking Animals and the Helsinki-based XR production company Donkey Hotel.

I hopped in right after the initial concept phase. My role felt like being “the tech guy trying to make sure we design something we can actually deliver”, which ultimately ended up getting credited as Game Engine Development Lead.


It was a big challenge to build an experience that exhibits the beautiful artworks and stories and custom environments in a natural way through both an immersive 6DoF platform (Quest) and flat-screen browsers in various sizes. On top, it needed to be localized across two languages.

But hey, teamwork dreamwork, we delivered the thing and got featured on national morning TV! (MTV3 Huomenta Suomi)


I would like to thank the producers and directors and sound department and whole crew and additionally extend very special thanks to Jan, Ethan and Samuli for brilliant 3D art, sound and dev support!