Rise of Immersive Art Museums

By Kate Haas

In an increasingly digital world, all kinds of industries must adapt to changes in technology and innovation, including the world of art. Immersive art museums reimagine the traditional museum experience through interactive and immersive exhibits.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum industry suffered heavily. Museums were forced to close during 2020 and most of 2021. When social distancing guidelines were lifted in late 2021, artists and curators needed to find a golden ticket to spark interest in the art world again. 

The golden ticket: immersive art.

Around the world, immersive art museums gained extreme popularity after the COVID-19 lockdown and transformed the museum experience for both visitors and artists. By stepping foot inside the exhibition, visitors become art.

Immersive art museums reimagine the traditional museum experience through interactive exhibits. Museums like the Artechhouse and WNDR Museum, all provide a multi-sensory showcase of art and technology. Their goal is to make 2-dimensional static art interactive. 

With locations in Washington D.C., New York City and Miami Beach, the Artechouse is a pioneer in the field of digital and experiential art. Their current exhibit, “Intangible Forms” by Shohei Fujimoto, combines choreographed kinetic lasers, moving lights, strobe lights and haze lights to blur the lines between what is imaginary and what is not. 

The 2021 exhibit that took Artechouse’s claim to fame was at their Washington D.C. location. In a city famous for its spring cherry blossoms, the Artechouse used cutting-edge interactive technology to bring “Hanami: Beyond the Blooms” by Yuko Shimizu to life. 

Photo: Yuko Shimizu

The exhibit teleported visitors into a flourishing world of cherry blossoms. There were several rooms with digital walls of flowers created by Shimizu that moved with every hand wave or movement. Parts of the museum that were not digitized were immersed with thousands of dangling pink and purple blossoms. This exhibit transformed the art museum scene in Washington, D.C. and proved the breadth of immersive art. 

The WNDR Museum is a popular interactive art museum with exhibits in Chicago, Boston, San Diego and Seattle. Unlike the Artechouse, WNDR includes exhibits with artificial intelligence programs that will fill the room with digital art based on prompts visitors submit. 

The WNDR Museum combines avant-garde technology with art. The experience of each immersive exhibit would be incomplete without visitors to the museum. 

Art museums around the world are constantly rethinking and rejuvenating their spaces to keep up with ever-changing industry trends. With immersive art becoming more mainstream, more and more traditional art museums might find their experience to be more self-directed and immersive.

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