Participants enjoy the new immersive space at the Leonardo Museum. (Paulina Pena)
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SALT LAKE CITY – While the ongoing pandemic has forced many art spaces to close their doors, the Leonardo has reappeared with a spirit of creativity and innovation.
“Every cultural institution had just come out of a really dry period because COVID not only shut us down, but a lot of exhibits stopped touring, and so Leonardo really took that time to say, ‘What’s important to us?'” said Mia McCain, senior marketing manager.
While it was primarily concerned with the question of when, Leonardo had focused on the question of how.
“We did not plan to exist the same way we did before. We thought, ‘How are we going to change? The world has changed, and how can we get better on this other side?'” McCain said.
Mimicking its namesake, Leonardo da Vinci – a renaissance polymath well versed in many subjects – the museum turned to the combination of art and technology for its answer and emerged with the state’s first digital immersive space.
While Utahns may have experienced other immersive digital art exhibits like “Beyond Van Gogh,” the new space is the first permanent one. The 10,000-foot space filled with a series of projectors was partially funded by the governor’s office for financial opportunities.
“I know how much COVID has disrupted our cultural sector. So seeing an organization emerge with new ideas and offerings, new partnerships and new technology is a wonderful testament to the magic that can happen when gravel and innovation in community organizations like for example, Leonardo is supported and reinforced, “said Utah Governor Spencer Cox in a video at the opening of the room.
The new digital space was launched with the exhibition “Art Through Experience: From Monet to Kandinsky”.
Nearly 40 wall and floor projections show works by several masters of modernism, including Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Edvard Munch and Wassily Kandinsky. The artists’ works are paired with professionally curated art history education.
The early November premiere of the exhibition marked the first time it appeared in the United States, with previous screenings in Europe and Asia. Choosing a Utah institution for the premiere speaks to the state’s growing status, McCain said.
“We are a kind of crossroads in the West. Many people come here for many different reasons – such as the technology industry – who are not natives, and I think they are in desperation for some kind of culture that might exist in New York City or LA We are answering the call for these resources, “she said.
That feeling was repeated by Cox.
Utah is known for its spirit of innovation as well as its technology sector. So this is a convenient place for one – we use technology and digital media to animate and bring to life content, from works of art like the show you want to see today to a wide range of STEM topics, “Cox said.
Leonardo, located at 209 E. 500 South in Salt Lake City, now also shows “Italian Renaissance” along with “From Monet to Kandinsky.” When the space is not used for art exhibitions, it can be used for immersive learning experiences from K-12.
The immersive digital space helps expand the availability and understanding of art and science, McCain said.
“When you take it out of its context of a museum and you place it in the context of the world, you get people curious and you get them excited to explore how they as individuals can be creative,” she said. “We’re starting to get into how we solve world problems, how we start to communicate better, and how we get creative and innovative, and that’s really what Leonardo is all about.”
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit theleonardo.org.
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