Paige and Glenn began the BillionDollarArtGallery out of necessity and it turned into a passion project for the couple. After setting up a television solely for the purpose of displaying images and photos, they eventually realized that they love art. So they started collecting paintings to display on their TV.
Going into this review, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the BillionDollarArtGallery. I am not an art aficionado, but on occasion, I do attend art museums. Knowing art is subjective, I entered this review period with an open mind.
Packaging and design
I was expecting to get the standard small box or bubble-wrapped packaging. To my pleasant surprise, I received a minimalistic and elegantly designed maple-etched box. The box is a light-colored wood, is soft to the touch, and feels durable. Maple was a great choice as it is light and cuts down on shipping costs.
Flipping the lid open reveals a chrome-plated USB stick. This USB stick has “BillionDollarArtGallery” laser-etched on the front. The stick itself sits in a snug-fitting foam.
When I went to pick the USB stick up, I was expecting to grab a standard plastic USB device. To my surprise, this stick was made of metal. The packaging itself is simply a work of art in its own right. I wish other companies put this much thought and care into their products.
Playing the Art
Being comfortable around technology, playing the USB stick on my aging Samsung TV was straightforward. Pop the USB stick into the port on the back and head to the media player.
Not everyone is that tech-savvy. If you head to the help section of their website, you can find a set of comprehensive instructions to get this device playing.
You get a breakdown of how to access the paintings on your TV, printable instructions for TV brands and their remotes, pictures of what a USB port looks like, and even a picture demonstrating the difference between a USB port and an HDMI port.
The help section even shows alternative devices that can accept the BillionDollarArtGallery USB stick. Alternative devices listed on the site are the Roku Ultra, the ABOX Android Media Player, a PC, and the Micca Speck.
Although this is a relatively simple product, you can tell how much care and thought has gone into making it. At this point, I was excited to see the Art.
Enter the Art Exhibit
After my initial unboxing, I was excited to put this device to the test. Although you can see all the paintings on their website, I purposely avoided looking at them. I wanted my first experience viewing them to be on my TV.
I plugged the device into my TV, sat down, and got started. The collection is simply staggering. This little device carries 500 paintings that span 900 years and with a wide variety of styles, you have plenty to look at.
The BillionDollarArtGallery lists all the artists and their paintings on their site. This device has artists and paintings that are well known, like Rembrandt and Vincent Van Gogh’s works as well as artists and paintings you may have never seen.
As a quick side note, some of the paintings have been modified. Some older paintings have ragged edges or deteriorating frames. As a result, frames were cut and colors extended to fill in the edges, as well as water damage from faces having been removed. Glenn and Paige argue this is what the painter would have wanted, while others may argue it interferes with the experience.
The Art Experience
There are a few ways you can view the various paintings. You can select just one painting to view at a time or have it scroll through as a slideshow. While playing it as a slideshow, you can listen to original music by Alex Cap, a Hollywood composter. As you enjoy each painting, the name of the painting, the painter’s name, the year it was made and the art museum that has it at fades in and out at the bottom of the screen. This was a nice touch as it gives you the opportunity to enjoy the piece, while learning more about it.
As I made my way through the gallery, I thoroughly enjoyed some of the paintings. Some of the paintings that jumped out at me were The Sea of Ice by Casper David Friedrich, Westminster Sunset by Albert Goodwin, Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze, and The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. Some paintings left me feeling neutral, and I could take them or leave them.
Many of the paintings had me realize that I wouldn’t be displaying this freely in my home. As a father of two young children, some of the paintings are beyond what I am comfortable with them seeing. Many of the paintings feature some kind of nudity. I am all for the body is beautiful, but my kids aren’t there yet.
Other paintings depict death, suffering, or some other type of gruesome event. I fully understand both the cultural and historical importance of these paintings, but I don’t want them in my living room.
I did discover that by plugging the USB stick into my computer, I could remove any unwanted paintings. It’s just something that I wish I didn’t have to do. It was disheartening and a massive letdown to realize that I won’t be freely displaying this in my home.
Wrapping it all Up
The packaging, product support, and return policy are top-notch. What I loved most is that you can really tell how much thought and care went into this product. It is available from their website or Amazon for $39.99. If you have people in your life that enjoy art or frequent art galleries, this would make a great gift.
If you don’t have kids, are a huge art buff, or are more open with your children than I am, then you will absolutely love what the BillionDollarArtGallery offers. It, unfortunately, just isn’t right for me at this point in my life. You can check out the gallery on their site to determine if this is right for your home.