History museum

New Immersive Exhibit Opens at Utah Museum of Natural History

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Last year, art lovers 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. Photos of sunflower fields, cherry blossom skies and starry nights filled Instagram feeds across the country.

Catering to all ages, the exhibit not only provided an hour of fun and beauty, but also gave attendees a compassionate, relatable, and historical perspective on the life and art of Van Gogh. For many, it was a new way of seeing art that was more accessible than the typical museum walk.

The immersive iteration of Van Gogh’s Salt Lake, called Beyond Van Goghclosed its doors in January, and quickly made way for Monet to Kandinsky, another experience based on the projection and animation of the work of famous painters.

But now there’s a new immersive exhibit in town. And rather than focusing on one specific artist, this one focuses on an essential element of any artist’s palette: color.

“It’s a feast for the eyes,” says Claire Davis, exhibit designer at the Natural History Museum of Utah (NHMU), of the new immersive experience, called The nature of color. “But it’s also very immersive and very interactive. There are projections you can interact with and manipulate, and there are opportunities to play with light and color.

The nature of color opens at the Utah Museum of Natural History on Saturday, February 26 and will run through August 14.

The traveling exhibit, which comes to Utah directly from the American Museum of Natural History in New York as the first stop on a national tour, dives deep into the role color plays in the world. Walking through the halls of the exhibition, visitors will be able to observe and manipulate color firsthand.

Davis specifically mentions a “body-activated projection wall” and a “shadow puppet wall” where participants can experience mixing colors as light.

“It really surrounds the senses visually, physically and aurally,” adds Jason Cryan, Executive Director of NHMU.

In addition to scientifically examining color, the exhibition also examines how our life on earth is affected by it. Colors have historically played a role in finding and collecting food, as well as protecting against predators. The nature of color also discusses how color affects our mental health and the role it plays in 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 meaning of a certain color can completely change depending on your background,” Davis says.

But, even if color can be perceived differently, it can also be unifying, and the exhibition also highlights this. 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 colorDavis says Dass took more than 4,000 photos of people to show the diversity of skin tones.

“There’s a really interesting piece of art put together with a whole diversity of humans superimposed on a Pantone colored background that matches their predominant skin color,” Cryan says of Dass’ section of The nature of color. “It’s just a very powerful part of the exhibit for our visitors to see themselves in this room and to have a sense of togetherness.”

Obviously, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from color, and a lot of fun to be had too.

“It’s wonderful when a subject lends itself to so many different areas of science and learning,” Cryan says. “There’s a lot of material, a lot of content for all ages, it’s going to be pretty exciting.”