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Sugar House Journal

Immerse yourself in art at new Leonardo exhibit

Nov 30, 2021 13h34 ● By Justin Adams

A family takes in the art displayed during the Immersive Art Series, now running at the Leonardo. (Justin Adams/City Journals)

By Justin Adams | [email protected]

There’s a new way to experience classic works of art at the new IDEA space at the Leonardo museum in downtown Salt Lake City.

The acronym stands for “Immersive Digital Exploratory Art.” Occupying a large chunk of the museum’s second floor, the new space may seem sparse when the lights are on—large blank walls, a few mirrors, some benches and cushions for visitors to sit on. But turn off the lights and fire up the dozens of projectors strewn across the ceiling, and suddenly you’re flying through Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” or are nestled peacefully in Monet’s lush gardens. Each scene of artwork transforms seamlessly into the next with animations that bring each piece to life. 

Accompanying the artwork is an occasional voice-over that provides context for the artwork, but more often a piece of music; from classical music for the Romantic period to jazz music for the post-modern. 

The exhibit, Immersive Art Series, was created by Universal Exhibition Group and has previously been shown in Moscow, Dubai, Belgium and Switzerland. The Leonardo will be its first home in North America. 

The series consists of five shows, each centered around a different era or theme. The first show being played at the Leonardo is titled “Monet to Kandinsky” and features the work of “10 artists who revolutionized the art world.” The next show that will be added to the rotation focuses on the Italian Renaissance.  

“[The Leonardo] is the perfect space for this because it’s all about science, technology and art and that’s exactly what this is all about,” said Steve Boulay, COO of Magic Space Entertainment, a local company who partnered with the Leonardo to build the IDEA space and bring the Immersive Art Series to Utah.

Although he’s surrounded by world class entertainment throughout his career of bringing Broadway productions to cities around the world, Boulay said there’s something “different” about this exhibit. In fact, he said he spent three hours just sitting in the space and enjoying the show all by himself. 

Although the IDEA space was built with the Immersive Art Series in mind, Boulay and the Leonardo envision many other uses for their investment.

“If we have the space, we can also curate local content. We’re going to be able to do things like have shows based on Utah history or shows that highlight Utah artists,” he said. “I think you’re going to see shows here for a decade, which is fantastic.”

The new space is also a perfect addition to the Leonardo as the country slowly emerges from the pandemic, said Executive Director Alex Hesse.

“This new space is very open, it’s ‘no touch,’ and we can also restrict how many people are inside. It’s a very COVID-friendly experience,” she said. “It also feels joyful, inspiring and uplifting and that feels very important to all of us at this time.”

Tickets for “Monet to Kandinsky” are now available through the Leonardo’s website,