When Illuminarium opens on the Atlanta BeltLine on July 1, the good money is on the immersive, technology-driven sensory experience being an instant success. After all, with the buzz around Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, which is awesome but will leave Atlanta’s Pullman Yards by 2022, Illumninarium Experiences, the venue’s Atlanta-based global entertainment company, is here to stay.
Using a 350-foot-long, 20-foot-high video wall that incorporates laser projection, spacial audio, scent technology and LIDAR to create a uniquely personal interactive experience based on a visitor’s location, Illuminarium plans to “transport millions of visitors to places they only dream of experiencing by placing them ‘inside’ the narrative.
They say their recreated worlds give guests the sort of encounters that are usually only found in being physically present or via virtual reality. And in Illuminarium’s case, you need neither.
The first visitors will experience the WILD: Safari Experience, a cinematic 240-degree view of exotic African animals in their own natural habitats of South Africa, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania, captured on film by global entertainment company Radical Media. Next will be SPACEWALK, in which visitors will walk the moon’s surface and Mars, and get closeup looks at remote worlds, nebulas and our solar system.
There will also be views as low as the ocean floor, as high as mountain peaks, and various visual art presentations.
Illuminarium is run by CEO Alan Greenberg, an Atlanta-based business executive whose career history includes serving as the publisher of Esquire magazine and founding the elite private school Avenues: The World School, currently the most expensive high school in America.
Greenberg calls Illuminarium an example of “edutainment,” and says he wants to use the venue, whose technology alone was a $15 million expense, to teach people about such topics as biodiversity, climate change, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathmatics education).
“A lot of my career has been in education,” Greenberg said in an exclusive interview during a private tour with Butter.ATL, “and from the very beginning I knew we had to have a mission here.”
When asked what learnings from his previous career positions he’s bringing to Illuminarium, he said the need to differentiate is key.
“You have to be distinctive; you have to be different. You can’t be ‘me too.’ So quality is everything, and the mission needs to be in your heart. And I like to be in something where I’m doing well, but I’m also doing good.”
The next two Illuminariums are already in the works. Following Atlanta’s opening, there will be an Illuminarium opening in Las Vegas in January 2022, with Miami’s Wynwood Arts District arriving later next year.
From there, the plan is to land in other “megacities” and tourism destinations around the world. Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and Austin are being considered, as well as Sydney, Barcelona, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Mexico City, Tokyo, Dubai, London and others. In all, there will be 50 Illuminariums around the world in no more than six years.
Perhaps destined to be one of the most popular elements of Illuminarium will be Illuminarium After Dark, where guests will drink and dine in an immersive surrounding of ever-changing environments, adding an air of exotic adventure to a night out in ATL. Ever wanted to enjoy cocktails while floating on a cloud, or from inside a rainforest?
Yes, it’s futuristic. And even in a time when people who’ve been staying inside longer than they may have wanted are looking to get back outside, with travel being high on the list of activities in a post-COVID-lockdown world, the experience of Illuminarium is sure to be one that becomes an instant Atlanta landmark and proves popular as a must-see destination in the city.
And Greenberg says that isn’t accidental — it was part of the plan to light up Atlanta with something new and innovative.
“In order to be at the top of the list,” he asserted, “you have to be extraordinary.”
Get more information on Illuminarium at Illuminarium.com