SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Last year, artgoers flocked to immersive Van Gogh exhibits in droves. Visitors were invited to literally bask in the artwork as animated projections of the famous painter’s work swirled and swam along the walls. Shots of fields of sunflowers, cherry blossom skies, and starry nights filled Instagram feeds across the country.
Appealing to all ages, the exhibit not only provided an hour of fun and beauty, it also gave attendees a compassionate, relatable, and historical perspective on Van Gogh’s life and art. For many, it was a new way to look at art that was more accessible than the typical museum stroll.
Immersive Van Gogh’s Salt Lake iteration, called Beyond Van Gogh, closed its doors in January, and quickly made way to Monet to Kandinsky, another experience based on projecting and animating the work on famous painters.
But now, there’s a new immersive exhibition in town. And rather than focusing in on a specific artist, this one focuses on an essential element in any artist’s palette: color.
“It’s a feast for the eyes,” Claire Davis, an exhibit designer at the Natural History Museum of Utah (NHMU), says of the new immersive experience, called The Nature of Color. “But it’s also very immersive and very interactive. There are projections that you can interact with and manipulate, and there are opportunities to play with light and color.”
The Nature of Color opens at the Natural History Museum of Utah on Saturday, February 26 and will run until August 14.
The travelling exhibition, which comes to Utah directly from New York’s American Museum of Natural History as it’s first stop on a national tour, takes a deep dive into the role color plays in the world. As visitors wander through the exhibit’s rooms, they’ll get to witness and manipulate color firsthand.
Davis specifically mentions a “body-activated projection wall” and a “shadow puppet” wall where attendees can experiment with mixing color in light form.
“It really just kind of surrounds the senses visually, physically, and auditorially,” adds Jason Cryan, the executive director of NHMU.
In addition to looking at color scientifically, the exhibit also examines how our life on earth is affected by it. Colors have historically played a role in finding and gathering food, as well as protecting against predators. The Nature of Color also touches on the way color affects our mental health and the role it plays communicating meaning and message across a variety of cultures.
“I love some of the juxtapositions that are set up with how different cultures view different colors, and how the meanings of a certain color can completely change depending on what your background is,” Davis says.
But, even though color can be perceived differently, it can also be unifying, and the exhibit highlights this, too. Davis and Cryan say one of their favorite parts of The Nature of Color is a section by photographer Angélica Dass that places skin pigmentation in conversation with color. In order to create this element of The Nature of Color, Davis says Dass took over 4,000 photos of people to show the full diversity of skin tones.
“There’s a really interesting art piece put together with a whole diversity of humans superimposed onto a Pantone color background that matches the predominant color of their skin,” Cryan says of Dass’s section of The Nature of Color. “It’s just a really powerful part of the exhibit for our visitors to see themselves in that piece and have a sense of unity.”
Clearly, there are many lessons to be learned from color, and a lot of fun to be had, too.
“It’s wonderful when a topic lends itself to so many different areas of science and of learning,” Cryan says. “It’s got a lot of material, a lot of content for all ages, it’s going to be pretty exciting.”