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The children seem unsure what to do at first.
Colorful art is projected on the walls and floor, spinning with animated elements. Classical music plays overhead, interspersed with explanations of the featured works. The kids stand at their parents’ sides, looking around uncertainly.
Then one brave toddler ventures onto the center of the floor. He jumps on the projected images, trying to catch them with his feet. Soon the other kids follow, twirling through the artwork with outstretched arms.
With children dancing in it, the exhibit lives up to its name: “Art Through Experience: Monet to Kandinsky,” running now through Dec. 29 at The Leonardo.
The show uses dozens of projectors to feature nearly 1,000 artworks along with animated graphics and music. Artists in the traveling exhibit — offered by Universal Exhibition Group — include Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Edvard Munch, Wassily Kandinsky and others.
Additionally, starting in December, “Monet to Kandinsky” will run every other day and “Art Through Experience: Italian Renaissance,” another show in the series, will show on the off days. This exhibit will feature artists that include Michelangelo, Raphael and Botticelli.
The Leonardo plans to feature more artists next year.
The “Art Through Experience” series has already played in Berlin, Dubai, Moscow and Bangkok. The Leonardo is hosting the show’s first-ever U.S. appearance in its 10,000-square-foot immersive digital exploratory art (IDEA) gallery.
The museum opened the show in partnership with MagicSpace Entertainment and Universal Exhibition Group, and the project is partially funded with a Utah Economic Assistance Grant from the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity.
Tickets are $30 for adults (ages 16 and up), $17 for kids (ages 3 and up) and $10 for members. “Art Through Experience” tickets allow access to The Leonardo’s other attractions. Buy them online at bit.ly/3cj5ZeV.
Supporting local art exhibits
In many ways, the “Art Through Experience” series is similar to “Beyond Van Gogh,” the immersive art exhibit currently open at Atmosphere Studios in Salt Lake City. The van Gogh exhibit fuses more than 300 of his artworks (and over 4 trillion content pixels) with music and animated elements.
“Art Through Experience” uses a smaller space than “Beyond Van Gogh,” and is therefore a more intimate experience, said Mia Caselli, senior marketing manager for The Leonardo.
Hannah Nielsen, a STEAM education specialist at The Leonardo, said she hopes people who visit “Beyond Van Gogh” will then want to experience even more artists at “Art Through Experience.”
She also said the recent hype surrounding immersive art shows may be because it’s an entirely new way to experience art.
“You’re taking that idea of having to stand in front of painting in a museum out of the idea of experiencing art,” she said. “It can be transported here … and you can walk through the brushstrokes. I think that’s sort of putting you in the head of the artist in a way that you may not have had before.”
More artists to come
For guests with COVID-19 concerns, Casellia said “Art Through Experience” is contactless. Staff members wear masks and all visitors are encouraged to wear masks, but fully vaccinated people can opt out if they choose, she said.
She also said The Leonardo acknowledges that, currently, all the featured artists are white men; that’s why they plan to hold community discussions at later dates to determine what additional art people would like to see.
In the meantime, “We’re not able to depict all the arts movements simply for the sake of space and time,” Caselli said. “But we don’t want [that] to prevent people from coming and seeing and experiencing these artworks, because they are still part of our history.”
Caselli said when people come to “Art Through Experience” shows, she hopes they think deeper and begin asking questions about art. Those questions lead to creativity, which in turn leads to problem solving and innovation, she said.
“It always has to start with some level of learning and some level of curiosity,” she said.
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