The Amazing Atelier des Lumieres

The Atelier des Lumieres (Studio of Lights) is located in an unassuming neighborhood behind an unimpressive storefront with huge blue doors that make it look like it could be a small neighborhood theater.  The only thing memorable about the outside is the huge line of people snaking out the front door and down the sidewalk waiting to buy tickets.  Until you get inside, that is.  That’s when you realize how amazing this place really is.  As I mentioned in my previous blog, the museum has taken over a former foundry that was built in 1835.  And the only thing they’ve done to the layout in this 16,000 square foot building is add a narrow little balcony on one side of the room to give viewers an additional viewing perspective.  Then the metal structure was refurbished to take advantage of the acoustics and the surface area was designed as a support for the 140 projectors they added.  The floors were left as is and the facility still contains a tall original brick wall as well as a drying tower and former furnace which have now become part of the “show.”  And what a show it is. The whole space has a total of 35,500 square feet of continuous projection space.

But it’s those 140 projectors and a fabulous sound system with gorgeous classical music that are doing all of the heavy lifting.  When we walked in (which we were able to do quickly because fortunately we had bought tickets ahead of time online so we were able to skip the line), it was like walking into a dark movie theater with no seats.  The art was moving and changing on the walls and floors continuously and it was absolutely mesmerizing. It was easy to miss the fact that all around you, almost every square inch of floor space was covered with sitting people.  Until your eyes adjusted and . . . there they were!

It’s almost impossible to describe the show adequately and even more difficult to get photographs that do it justice.  In effect, the show digitalizes the artwork of mainly two artists, Gustav Klimt and Friedensreich Hundertwasser, both Viennese artists.  And that art pours down the walls and moves and grows and shrinks and evolves, and covers those 33-foot walls and expansive floors imaginatively.  It was breathtaking!  We could have stayed and watched that art and listened to that music all day long.


Everything in this painting was moving, including the woman. And look how gigantic she is compared to the people sitting on the floor below her.


It’s like this piece, projected on all walls simultaneously, was being rapidly drawn, line by line, before your very eyes, accompanied by appropiate, fabulous music.


It’s hard to believe that this 3-D appearing imagine was actually on a flat wall.


These really looked like mammouth stained glass windows, lit from behind and separated by pillars.


This tree started very small on all walls and quickly branched out, mostly horizontally, but also up.


A glimpse of some of the people sitting on the floor in front of one wall, looking at a siimilar view on the opposite wall.


This photogenic Parisian couple looks like they’re part of the show, but their shadow gives them away. They’re actually just sitting against the wall like many others, with the images being projected on the wall, the floor . . . and them.


This piercing blue sea was gorgeous and the movement really made it look like water. The little boats floated along in the water too. A few white lights like the one seen here were the only distractions around the room . . . required lighted arrows pointing the way to the exits.


An indication of the coordinated projection on the floor as well as the density of people sitting on the floor.


All projections covered the large round furnace in the middle of the room as well as the walls. The furnace had a small entry door in it (seen on the left) and projections could be seen inside the furnace as well.

Chuck took some great videos inside the museum that do a much better job of illustrating the movement and the fabulous musical accompaniment.  But their refusal to be wrestled into this post is only one of several technical issues I’ve been battling.  If I can eventually get them to cooperate, I’ll add them later on.

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