The application of virtual reality technology in art appreciation teaching can effectively guide students to recognize and appreciate art works from the visual, auditory and tactile aspects. By simulating the reproduction of the real scene of art works, the students' cognitive ability and appreciation ability of art appreciation can be improved. This paper aims to apply virtual reality technology to art appreciation teaching, improve students' cognitive ability of art appreciation, and adopt the quantitative and qualitative modes of research. This quasi-experimental study uses pre-test and post-test, and uses two different methods of traditional teaching modes and virtual reality technology teaching mode to compare the test results of the cognitive ability of art appreciation two groups of students. The data were analyzed by mean and standard deviation, and the research hypothesis was tested by independent sample t-test and paired sample t-test. The hypothesis test results showed that the students in the experimental group achieved good results in the test of virtual reality technology applied to art appreciation. Finally, the qualitative data of face-to-face interviews reflect the positive evaluation of the technology and the satisfaction of improving the cognitive ability of art appreciation. The main survey structure shows that art appreciation learning combined with virtual reality technology is effective and could be considered as a useful technical tool. It gives students the opportunity to learn and practice more comprehensively in the art class, thus improving their cognitive and aesthetic abilities.