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A museum that offers an immersive art and technology experience is coming to Massachusetts for the first time this winter, with the goal of bringing all kinds of art lovers together.
“This is intended to be entertainment, but spanning multiple years of life and age groups,” WNDR Museum President Chris Freeman told MassLive Tuesday, Nov. 14. “The most diverse crowd we can bring in here, the better we will be.”
Freeman felt like it was a natural move for WNDR, which already has locations in Chicago, Seattle and San Diego, to open a Boston museum. The space, located at 500 Washington St., is set to open in the winter of 2024.
“There are so many characteristics of both of our cities and the history and the richness in arts,” Freeman said while talking about the similarities between his native Chicago and Boston.
“You have brilliant food here, you have brilliant culture, the history and just the appreciation for your city,” he continued. “There’s just a wonderful opportunity here where we are because of everything that’s around us.”
Creative Director David Allen was thrilled about WNDR coming to Boston because, in his opinion, the city embraces the combination of art and technology. As an oil painter and tattoo artist, Allen said technology has changed not only the art landscape, but his own work.
“As a fine artist myself, I use technology to augment my craft,” Allen said. “A lot of people don’t, and that’s kind of frowned upon. But this is a city that doesn’t really frown upon that.”
The museum, which is the epitome of art and technology, invites guests to fully engage with artworks and multi-sensory installations. WNDR was voted one of the top 10 immersive art experiences in the country by USA Today’s 2022 and 2023 Reader Polls.
WNDR was also named one of the “10 Best Immersive Experiences in the U.S. to Check Out Right Now” by TimeOut. Allen said the museum’s success comes from WNDR being accessible not just for artists, but also art lovers from classic historians to social media influencers.
“Our demographic is big,” Allen said. “I kind of like that it’s spread open like that. It’s beautiful. We can reach a lot of people.”
“It’s our job and our brand’s job to be the thread that connects them,” Freeman added. “Whether you’re 88 years old or whether you’re 8 years old, there’s something there for you.”
The 17,000-square-foot Boston space will feature more than 20 exhibits intended to tingle the senses. Among the exhibits include a 360-degree multimedia exhibition created by German artist, designer, curator and creative director Leigh Sachwitz called INSIDEOUT.
The exhibit was inspired by Sachwitz’s childhood in Scotland where she often experienced thunderstorms while spending time hiding out in a Glasgow garden shed.
“Leigh Sachwitz invites you to experience the rain drumming hard on the roof, watching through the window seeing dark clouds stacking up in the night sky,” the description of INSIDEOUT reads. “As the protecting walls disappear into the moonlight and the thunderstorm reaches its climax we feel naked — but purified by the light.”
The piece has been shown at Triennale der Photographie as part of “Olympus Photography Playground in Hamburdge” in Hamburg, Germany. It has also been featured at Vienna Design Week in Munich, Vienna in 2015 and at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
Aside from showcasing internationally renowned installations, WNDR has a mission of integrating with the local community. With so many colleges and universities in the Boston area, Allen believes there are “almost too many options” for which art collectives to become involved with WNDR.
“We’re trying to connect, you know? What if your class was to create an exhibit for us? Maybe the whole team creates an exhibit and then we show it,” he explained. “We have so many ideas, and some of them we’ve implemented in other cities, but here’s very different.”
Freeman expects these programs to take off more in Boston than anywhere else.
“We’ve enjoyed some success connecting to local artists’ communities because they approach us with ideas,” Freeman said mentioning the artists and individuals who have already toured the space. “That is something that’s, I think, going to drive us … We really are excited.”
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