Groundbreaking digital art exhibit coming to Indy

Emilee Geist

Next summer, visitors to the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields will step into the artwork of Vincent van Gogh. They can see “The Starry Night” twinkle around them, and feel the warmth of “Sunflowers” as the iconic painting surrounds them. Immersive images from the floor to ceiling will engulf […]

Next summer, visitors to the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields will step into the artwork of Vincent van Gogh.

They can see “The Starry Night” twinkle around them, and feel the warmth of “Sunflowers” as the iconic painting surrounds them.

Immersive images from the floor to ceiling will engulf them in the Dutch master’s most well-known works.

“This new way of experiencing art will be truly multi-sensory. Artworks will come alive through the use of cutting-edge projection technology, music, food and even cocktails,” said Charles L. Venable, director and CEO of Newfields. “Modern audiences want more than static gallery experiences. Rather, they want highly engaging ones that blur the boundaries between cultural events.”

On Tuesday, Newfields officials announced the coming of THE LUME Indianapolis, a multisensory experience bringing Van Gogh’s painting to life in June 2021. Approximately 150 digital projectors will turn the works into a 3-D world that visitors can explore using all of their senses.

Close to 3,000 moving images will be set to a classical score, transporting people into Van Gogh’s world.

“People consume differently today, and people consume art differently today. Any time we can offer that invitation to people, it’s going to be amazing for us. There’s a preconception about what museums are, and especially what Newfields is, so we’re able to invite all of these new people here to really digest art in a different way,” said Jonathan Berger, deputy director for marketing and external affairs at Newfields.

THE LUME was created through a partnership between Newfields and Grande Experience, an Australian company specializing in immersive experiences and large-scale exhibitions. Over the past five years, Newfields has researched innovative digital exhibitions in Asia, Australia and Europe, gauging how those museums created immersive exhibitions and how the concept could be brought to Indianapolis.

The research demonstrated how digital projection technology and celebrated works of art can be joined to appeal to new audiences.

“These types of experiences are more approachable and family friendly than traditional ones,” Venable said.

The exhibition will follow the trajectory that Newfields started four years ago, using its unique museum space, gardens and campus to offer one-of-a-kind experiences, Venable said. Exhibitions such as Spring Blooms, Winterlights, Harvest Days and Harvest Nights have redefined what art means, as well as how people consume it.

THE LUME Indianapolis has been made possible through funding from the Lilly Endowment, and will be permanently housed in nearly 30,000 square feet of space on the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s fourth floor.

This will be the first permanent space for this kind of digital exhibition in the U.S., Venable said. Van Gogh will be the first focus on THE LUME Indianapolis. But in subsequent summers, new artists and experiences will debut each year.

“We believe THE LUME will be more than a popular attraction in Indianapolis,” he said. “We feel that this future-forward exhibition experience is the right strategy at a watershed moment in the history of the American museum sector, and that other museums will be inspired to embrace the marriage of technology and great art on a much larger scale, as the IMA at Newfields is now doing.”

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