Featured image ©istockphoto.com / AntonioGuillem
New technology and the need to adapt have transformed the traditional feel of museums and galleries around the world.
From smartphones to staying at home, the way we experience art has metamorphosed into something more comprehensive.
In a world ruled by social media, viewers are allowed an inside look into the lives of artists all over and their unique way of making art. Everything from gathering materials, to creating pieces, to live streaming exhibits are available. Now, we’re getting an inside look at entire collections, and it’s easy and accessible.
In Rotterdam, Netherlands, and part of the lush, rosebush-filled Museumpark, is the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. The museum displays an incredibly diverse collection of art and right beside it, donned in over 1,500 mirrored panels is the museum’s depot.
“Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has a collection of more than 151,000 artworks but — like all museums worldwide — only displays between 6 to 8 percent in the galleries. The remaining objects are kept in storage facilities, closed to the public,” says Ina Klaassen, museum director of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen. The first of its kind, the depot will transform the way visitors view the museum’s collection.
The Musée du Louvre has never before been so accessible. The museum’s most obscure and most well-known pieces are just a click away.
©istockphoto.com / TomasSereda
Open since autumn 2021, the depot creates a one-of-a-kind opportunity in the art world. “The entire collection will be accessible to the public — a world first — and will be stored at a single location next to the museum,” according to Klaassen. Even the building itself is a masterpiece. Created by the architects of MVRDV — a global architecture practice — the mirrors brilliantly reflect the surrounding museumpark, which allows the depot to seamlessly blend into the existing cityscape.
Certainly not alone in their quest to enhance the art world, the Musée du Louvre in Paris, France is also striving for something similar. The museum has moved the impressive entirety of its collection to an online platform and launched a new website, which extends the experience for those who have already visited or hope to visit in the future. “Today, the Louvre is dusting off its treasures, even the least-known,” according to Jean-Luc Martinez, president/director of the Musée du Louvre. “For the first time, anyone can access the entire collection of works from a computer or smartphone for free, whether they are on display in the museum, on loan, or in storage.”
The architects of MVRDV have created an iconic building, giving a boost to the Rotterdam Museumpark. The choice to use mirrors came with the idea to make the surrounding park appear bigger, integrating the building into the landscape.
Photo by Ossip van Duivenbode.
Even prior to the pandemic, museums, galleries, and artists were working to bring art from all over the world to the masses. The British Museum, in partnership with the Google Cultural Institute, created a highly interactive timeline through history with the option to explore multiple eras, continents, and cultures throughout history and art. The Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian American Art Museum offers virtual exhibits that take advantage of the additional space for lengthier descriptions and personal narratives from artists.
These innovative techniques continue to expand the way we experience museums and galleries. “A museum and the new publicly accessible art depot are very different,” says Klaassen. “The museum has three main functions: namely the displaying of a collection in an art/historical context, as well as conserving and researching it. The museum is the showroom, the depot is behind-the-scenes.”
The idea that an entire collection can be available is a glimpse into the future of art and adds an element of freedom when viewing it.
Typically, art in a closed depository is not accessible to the public; only a small, select group has the privilege. Approximately 95-percent of the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen is open to the public where they can “witness museum activities such as the packaging of objects out for loan and other conservation and restoration activities,” says Klaassen.
These new types of displays and virtual tours extend the art — even the most prestigious pieces — to the far corners of the world. “The dynamics in the depot will be different from those of the museum: in the museum, exhibitions are presented, whereas the depot allows for the visitor to explore the collection of more than 151,000 objects in whatever way they like,” adds Klaassen.
France’s iconic museum has integrated an interactive map and its website allows visitors to easily navigate through different mediums, themes, or even specific rooms in the museum. “The Louvre’s stunning cultural heritage is all now just a click away,” says Martinez. Each entry is a comprehensive display of the piece, with data such as the title, artist, inventory number, dimensions, materials and techniques, date and place of production, object history, current location, and bibliography included.
For the first time in history, the art in the Musée du Louvre is accessible for viewers at any time. It is suddenly possible for visitors who missed an exhibit or simply wish to revisit a piece to do just that. These changes are shifting the relationship between art and viewers to a new level, which will only elevate the overall experience of museums and galleries. “I am sure that this digital content is going to further inspire people to come to the Louvre to discover the collections in person,” says Martinez.
The Musée du Louvre’s new website is also a place where original content is made accessible for both in-person and virtual visitors, such as live and recorded podcasts, lectures, and concerts, web series, animated stories, filmed exhibition walk-throughs, interviews, and more. “We look forward to welcoming the public to join us on a journey behind the scenes and experience all facets of working with such a high-end art collection,” notes Klaassen about the depot.
The sleek, modern design of the exterior continues inside the depot. Once inside, visitors will have the option for guided tours or to explore the building independently and peek inside restoration studios and other spaces normally closed to the public.
Photo by Ossip van Duivenbode;
Rendering courtesy of Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen
In 1932, when the impressive Grand Rex Theatre opened its doors in Paris, 80 doormen donned in white gloves and tails greeted guests for a night of glamour and luxury. A night at the theater was an occasion for fine attire, lively socialization, and entertainment. Today, although streaming services have taken technology to the next level and brought the big screen right into our living rooms, the experience is far from the same.
The Open Air Cinema Kamari in Santorini, Greece is a stunning outdoor theater that is surrounded by eucalyptus trees and offers a variety of locally produced wines and ice creams to enjoy alongside movie showings. The owner, Ina Koutroubilis, says, “Our guests tell us that the cinema is like an enchanting secret garden that harks back to the Golden Age of cinema. They come for the whole experience.”
The Oriental Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was constructed with details from Indian, Moorish, Islamic, and Byzantine architectural styles and is known today as Milwaukee’s Historic Movie Palace. Karina Henderson, marketing director of Milwaukee Film, notes, “You can watch a lot of movies on your screen at home, but the experience of going into a magnificent building, sitting in a dark theater, putting away your glowing screens for a couple of hours, and letting yourself be immersed in someone else’s story — that’s an amazing thing in this day and age.”
In a world of commercial-free marathon-watching, a night out at the theater is even more of a luxury than in the past. These otherworldly theaters around the world take entertainment to a higher level.
Open Air Cinema Kamari
Open Air Cinema photo by cinekamari.
The Oriental Theatre
Photo by Jake Hill / milwaukee film.
San Francisco, California
Photo by Charlie Villyard Photography.
Elevated with Flavor
Foreign Cinema in the Mission District of San Francisco, has been a San Francisco Chronicle “Top 100 Restaurant” for 18 consecutive years and is first and foremost a restaurant. Yet the added 35-millimeter films displayed nightly on their outdoor courtyard screen transforms the establishment into an intriguing combination. This pairing of food and film is not a new one, but one that continues to appeal to guests. Gayle Pirie, co-owner/co-chef of Foreign Cinema, explains that at Foreign Cinema, they united culinary and cinematic experiences in an honest way that proved successful.
“At the restaurant, visual media collides in such a way that the aesthetics of the screen flicker easily alongside the vibrancy of the plates,” says Pirie. “This pairing makes sense since the Mission neighborhood, where the restaurant is located, has a rich theatrical past. In the 1950s, it was the city’s hub for movie theaters. In many ways, we’re honoring this legacy while spotlighting the ideals and flavors that have come to define California cuisine.”
Foreign Cinema’s refined menu elevates the experience to an even higher standard. Keeping with seasonal and local ingredients common in California cooking, the restaurant also draws on inspiration from the Middle East and Africa. “Our sesame fried chicken with madras curry and spiced honey is a signature dish we nearly never take off the menu,” says Pirie.
Another example of food and film can be found at the Edible Cinema in London, England, where each guest is supplied with a variety of mystery boxes containing a small tasting menu tailored to specific moments in each film. The element of taste enhances the experience and entertainment without competing for attention.
The Paris Theatre was the last single-screen movie theater in Manhattan. With its history and overall classic atmosphere, many were highly disappointed when the doors closed in August 2019. According to The New York Times, the theater was a favorite among locals and tourists and was known for playing foreign films in their original languages.
Although the venue closed, a surprising new owner has reopened its doors — Netflix. The streaming company will use the theater for Netflix-original movie debuts, special events, and other screenings. The venue is over 70 years old and instantly brings to mind the Golden Age of cinema as it sits across from The Plaza in bustling Manhattan.
The Grand Rex Theatre
Top photo from Picasa.
Bottom photo courtesy The Grand Rex.
The setting of these theaters begins the journey for guests and sets the tone for the afternoon’s entertainment. For the Foreign Cinema, “The long corridor leads to an unexpected oasis, much like the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland, with a climactic courtyard scene illuminated by the flicker of our 35-millimeter projected films and juxtaposed with the roaring hearth centered in the main dining room, all encompassing the warmth of our community of diners,” according to Pirie.
When entering the Open Air Cinema Kamari, “You will find yourself in a lush green garden, surrounded by eucalyptus trees and fragrant night-blooming flowers. We usually play ’50s Jazz music and together with the decoration and lighting design, guests are already enchanted,” says Koutroubilis.