Immersive experience focuses on Monet, other Impressionist painters

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Amid soft colors and bold brushstrokes, visitors to THE LUME Indianapolis’ upcoming installation will be immersed in the heart of the Impressionist art movement.

People can stroll among the water lilies and be dazzled by the pastel sunrises made famous by Claude Monet. They will be transported inside the simple rural landscapes of “Landscape in Auvers, farm entrance from rue Saint-Rémy” by Paul Cézanne. The subtle color of Pierre Renoir’s “Bouquet in a Vase” will envelop guests in an immersive experience.

Meanwhile, the scents and music of Debussy, Tchaikovsky, Ravel and Offenbach provide a full sensory opportunity to see art in a new way.

“As soon as you walk in, you are kind of overwhelmed. People stop at the doorstep, because it’s so grand,” said Jonathan Berger, vice president of marketing and external affairs at Newfields. “Step into this space and be completely surrounded by these images and the aroma in the air really adds to this experience.”

“Monet & Friends Alive” is the next chapter in THE LUME digital experience at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Newfields. After the hugely popular exhibition immersing visitors in the art of Vincent van Gogh, which has drawn more than 235,000 people since it opened last summer, the new experience focuses on Impressionist painters.

Starting July 3, works by Monet, Pissaro, Renoir, Cézanne and more come to life in three-dimensional projections spanning from floor to ceiling.

The experience also offers the opportunity for local artists to become part of THE LUME, with an artist’s digital work chosen to be displayed as a featurette in the exhibition.

“We’re excited to see how this year’s ‘Monet Alive’ show will impact those in our community, across the Midwest and across the country,” Berger said. “Newfields was transformed by last year’s Van Gogh exhibition, so this year we continue to look for ways to add new surprises, educate our visitors and welcome new faces to the museum.”

THE LUME is the result of an ambitious multi-year effort by Newfields to provide a unique museum experience. Newfields officials worked with Grande Experience, an Australian company specializing in immersive art and large-scale exhibitions. For five years, Newfields studied innovative digital exhibits in Asia, Australia and Europe, assessing how these museums created immersive exhibits and how the concept could be brought to Indianapolis.

Research has demonstrated how digital projection technology and famous works of art can be combined to attract new audiences.

The fourth floor of the Indianapolis Museum of Art has been completely redesigned to support this vision. In huge galleries, 150 high-definition projectors display a rotating collection of images and artwork.

The exhibition will be the largest continuous exhibition space in the museum’s 139-year history, as part of the museum’s management’s goal to reach new audiences through innovation.

“What it helped us do was sort of demystify the art. You go up to the fourth floor and have this incredible experience in THE LUME, and then you go to these other galleries that we have,” Berger said. “There can be people who can be a little intimidated by art, when they don’t know much about it. But they are curious about it. It helps to present art to people in a different way.

The decision to focus on Monet and other Impressionists for this exhibition stems from Newfields unique campus and accompanying mission.

“Our mission is an exceptional experience with art and nature. There aren’t too many museums in the country that are a world-class museum that we are and sit on 152 acres of garden,” Berger said. “Monet and this whole Impressionist movement really fits into this mission and helps people explore it.”

The artwork, accompanied by late 19th century music and other sensory touches, remains the focal point of “Monet & Friends Alive.” Swirling colors, sounds, and styles create a mesmerizing, if not overwhelming, display.

“With its focus on a dozen or more of France’s finest Impressionist artists, as well as the wonderful accompanying musical score and a host of other poignant sensory elements, Monet & Friends Alive is sure to be a fascinating sequel to our recent Vincent experience van Gogh,” said Bruce Peterson, owner of Grande Experiences. “THE LUME remains an amazing way to experience art from a new perspective.”

But officials have also curated other experiences to help visitors better understand Impressionist art and the profound effect it had on culture. One of the final galleries features artwork from Newfields’ own collection, including Monet’s work “Charing Cross Bridge”.

“You go through this amazing Monet and Friends experience, and then you come to the third gallery, and there’s our own Monet and a Degas sculpture. It’s one thing to see pictures, but here’s the real thing,” Berger said.

Inside a ‘Monet and Play’ interpretive room, people can play with a selfie station, wall timeline and interactive coloring wall activity.

A life-size recreation of Monet’s “Bridge over a Lily Pond” offers a physical interpretation of the famous painting.

Inside a Monet-inspired cafe, people can order specialty cocktails, sweets, and small bites.

“It’s a little French cafe, and people can stop by, have that food or that drink, sit in the gallery space, and enjoy the images around you,” Berger said.

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