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Water Lilies On Your Face

A look inside an immersive Monet exhibit.

By Hannah Eaton

Photo by

A mother and daughter sit in the middle of the room, arms around each other. A couple stands and takes pictures of each other. A group of friends in the corner laugh and point all around them. Each person, covered in Claude Monet’s artwork, as if they had been painted by the Impressionist artist himself.

The Immersive Monet & the Impressionists exhibit at Lighthouse ArtSpace is a triumph in bringing classic artwork into real life. Since opening in Boston in June, the exhibit has played host to thousands of people, both students and local residents alike, trying to catch a glimpse of Monet’s lilies on their own faces.

Impressionism, a 19th century European art movement, focused on light and color through quick brushstrokes. A good Impressionist artwork will be akin to Alicia Silverstone’s definition in Clueless– “From far away it's okay, but up close it's a big ol' mess.”

Monet (1840-1926) was an originator of Impressionism, and lives on today as its most famous artist. One can hardly think of Impressionism without thinking of Monet, making him the perfect subject for this immersive exhibit.

When entering the exhibit, the entryway is an artful experience all on its own. Landmark Impressionist artworks hang from the walls, with plaques giving historical background to enrich the guests’ experience.

The exhibit is confined to one large room, with sweeping white walls the artwork is projected on, and a few chairs for guests to sit and bask in the art. The artwork and sound plays on a loop, with a full rotation lasting about 45 minutes, although many stay longer; I was there for an hour and a half, glued to my seat.

The exhibit is more than just an art show; the art is alive. The pieces move, combining and transforming into other pieces. There is never a static moment in the show. The artworks featured in this exhibit are all interacting with, playing off of, or contrasting with each other.

A moving art show would be incomplete without the perfect music, and this exhibit does not fail in that regard. A medley of classic instrumental pieces cascade through the room, perfectly matching the mood of each piece of art as it flies across the walls.

Monet is the central artist being celebrated at this exhibit, but he is far from the only artist featured. Between layers of water lilies and fields, one can spot Edgar Degas’s infamous ballerinas, Théophile Steinlen’s Le Chat Noir poster, and Auguste Renoir’s female-focused portraits.

Once it’s time to leave, the gift shop is just down the hall and is full of Monet’s art, printed on socks, posters, and mugs, so everyone can take a painting home with them.

Lighthouse ArtSpace offers similar exhibits with other themes as well. The Immersive Nutcracker exhibit just opened on Nov. 19, and next February, a Disney Animation exhibit will be installed. Tickets are already going quickly, so make sure to grab yours before they are gone.

Immersive Monet & the Impressionists will be open until Jan. 1, 2023. You can buy tickets online here.


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