Illuminarium Experiences, a breakthrough global experiential entertainment company created by worldwide leaders in cinematic immersion, theatrical design, and venue operations, announced plans to open an Illuminarium at Chicago’s Navy Pier. The 32,000 square-foot entertainment experience will be situated inside the former Crystal Gardens venue, which will be transformed into the fourth Illuminarium location in the U.S., joining Atlanta, Miami and Las Vegas. Illuminarium Experiences plans for dozens of venues in major cities across the globe within the next five years.
The initial design process of transforming Navy Pier’s Crystal Gardens into an Illuminarium has begun, under the direction of the architecture firms Rockwell Group and Perkins & Will. Illuminarium plans to invest more than $30 million in the redevelopment of Navy Pier through innovative design and world-class technology. Construction is expected to begin in early to mid-2022, with Illuminarium opening its doors to locals and tourists in Chicago approximately one year later.
The Illuminarium Venue: A place that can take you anyplace
What museums are to art, cinemas to movies, and concert halls to music, Illuminarium is to experiential entertainment. Through the cutting-edge capabilities of innovative technologies, Illuminarium’s immersive venues will transport millions of visitors to places that they previously could only dream of experiencing. By enabling audiences to see, hear, feel, smell and even personally affect an experience, Illuminarium will place them “inside” the narrative using techniques from traditional motion picture production and virtual reality combined with interactive features that facilitate the experience of the real world, all without wearable hardware. In this light, Illuminarium exemplifies a “VR, without the glasses” experience.
“We are thrilled that the future home of Chicago’s Illuminarium is the iconic Navy Pier,” said Alan Greenberg, CEO, Illuminarium Experiences. “We have created a global experiential brand that will produce unprecedented entertainment spectacles to transport consumers to many of the most coveted places and experiences on Earth, and beyond. We can’t wait to welcome both Chicagoans and tourists to interact with highly engaging, socially conscious, and educational immersive digital spectacles that I’m confident are unlike anything they’ve ever witnessed.”
“Navy Pier juts out 3,300 feet into the water, and our Centennial Wheel rises 200 feet into the sky, but Illuminarium breaks all boundaries by taking us places most of us would never see—transporting us across oceans–and under them—and sending us soaring beyond the reach of astronauts,” said Navy Pier President and CEO Marilynn Gardner. “We’re so thrilled to transform an underused location on the Pier into this year-round opportunity for people to explore the touch and feel, sights, smells, tastes, and sounds of distant worlds. The theater of the mind has never had such a boost as that provided by the immersive Illuminarium, where a journey that begins as a field trip could end as a career in the sciences.”
Illuminarium’s Safari and Space Experiences Coming to Navy Pier
Illuminarium’s inaugural spectacle will be WILD: A Safari Experience, a first-of-its-kind entertainment experience showcasing the beauty and splendor of Africa’s most exotic animals in their natural habitats. WILD will transport visitors to Africa through cinematic content shot by RadicalMedia, using custom camera arrays that provide a 240-degree native field of view (versus the average 210-degree human field of view), on location to showcase majestic animals in their native habitats across South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania. Complementing the exotic sights of a safari, visitors will also be immersed in its authentic sounds and scents, all without leaving the city of Chicago.
WILD will be followed by SPACEWALK, a mind-blowing journey through our Solar System, where the Illuminarium audience will experience what it’s like to walk on the surface of the Moon and Mars. From walking on the moon next to the Apollo lander, spending time on future human settlements on the moon and Mars, seeing our beautiful solar system’s planets in immense beauty and detail, reliving great moments in space exploration with a sound and scale never experiences before, and finally to the celestial beauty of the stellar Nebula beyond — SPACEWALK is a visually rich, immersive spectacle that transports visitors across space and time.