Light becomes art20 February 2020
/ An innovative way of showcasing art, with the help of light design experts Painting with Light /
Audiences are changing, across all media and all fields. Like everything else, even art is suffering from reduced interest in conventional galleries and museum-like settings, and even art has to reinvent its way of presenting, to attract more demographics.
To understand how that can be done, look no further than Mechelen, in Belgium, where art collectors and entrepreneurs Hans and Joost Bourlon transformed the former Holy Ghost Chapel in the historical heart of town into a new ground-breaking and interactive gallery concept. Called Het Kunstuur (The Art Hour), the new space hosts 32 paintings from 16 Belgian painters from the 19th century, displayed across three gallery spaces. In the first two rooms, paintings are mounted on black walls and lit from behind with RGB LED strips which change colors to generate an ambient light adjusted to each work’s specific palette; each painting is also accompanied by a life-size projection of a well-known Flemish personality who introduces the artwork and narrates its history. Entering the third room, situated in the old chapel itself, the mood shifts from a cool, contemporary art space to a darker, more intimate club-like space; here there are no visible narrators, only their voices, which complement an immersive light show; this altered setting allows a complete change of perspective and creates a totally different context for imbibing the art, the perfect ending for an interesting journey.
Het Kunstuur was designed by Wouter Verhulst of King Concept, and all the technical systems were created and supplied by Painting with Light, a Belgian creative lighting and media specialist with a vast experience of 20 years in creating entertaining ‘visual experiences’ for theater, live shows, attractions, themed environments, visitor centers, etc. “For this specific project – said Luc Peumans, CEO of Painting with Light – our client had some extra challenges: the concept of visitors spending maximum one hour in the museum and focusing their attention on one painting at a time together with timing, lighting, audio and guest flow.”
Guest flow is one of the most important aspects in this gallery. During opening hours, tours commence every 20 minutes. Visitors arrive in the reception zone, are equipped with their headsets and audio players and wait for their allotted timeslot. When the time arrives, the entrance door opens automatically, and the experience can start. Everything is steered from a central control room, and visitors only have to follow the narrators, just like they would a live guide…
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