Step Into Monet’s Garden in the Middle off Stockholm

Written by Natalia Muntean by Natalia Muntean

After successful visits to cities such as Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna or New York, “Monet's Garden - The Immersive Experience” has come to Stockholm. An immersive experience created by screens, large projections, interactive installations, scents, and atmospheric music, the Monet's Garden exhibition shows the Impressionist pioneer's work in a completely new light. The show includes three experience rooms: the studio, the artist's mythical Normandy garden, and the exhibition room. Claude Monet's works are brought to life thanks to the imagination of Dr. Nepomuk Schessl, the producer and brains behind the immersive experience.
Created by Swiss creative lab Immersive Art AG in collaboration with Alegria Konzert GmbH, the exhibition will be open in Stockholm until January 21st, moving to Malmö afterwards. We sat down with Dr. Nepomuk Schessl to find out more about the inspiration and mechanics behind the initiative.

What inspired the creation of Monet's Garden – The Immersive Experience, and how was the concept developed?
JNS: When producing a dance show in Kyiv in 2019/2020, we collaborated with video artists on the scenery. The dance show never premiered due to Covid, however the possibilities that the video artists showed us got stuck in our heads. And in the midst of the Covid depression, when we had to reschedule or cancel most of our concerts we were looking for a positive, productive project. When my father found a book he had bought in New York 30 years earlier with the title “Monet's Garden”, these elements came together inspiring the production of “Monet's Garden – The Immersive Experience”.

How did you incorporate Claude Monet's revolutionary painting style into the technological aspects of the exhibit?
JNS: We incorporate several ways of storytelling into the exhibition. Many of them are interactive, where we encourage our guests to engage and sometimes even dance with Monet's art. Each of those installations, though in an entertaining way, explains another aspect of Monet´s revolutionary style.

Could you elaborate on how the exhibit balances being both ornamental and educational, catering to visitors with varying levels of art knowledge?
JNS: If you want to convey any kind of knowledge or fascination, today the main challenge is to keep your guests engaged and undistracted for some time. Therefore, our idea is to take everyone by hand and let them experience Monet's art. Whether they are young or old, a Monet beginner or a Monet expert. The Monet expert will experience their favourite artist in a new way and might be able to comprehend Monet in a new way, while the Monet beginner does not have to bring any prior knowledge, while interest will be helpful.

In what ways did Monet's Garden serve as the catalyst for the entire project, guiding the production process?
JNS: For Monet himself, his garden, but before the garden nature in general, sort of was his artistic gravitational point. From the center of this point you can see his artistic and individual exploration of his surroundings. The garden therefore is a natural point of departure for exploring his art as well.

What do you see as the potential and challenges of using technology to bring classical art to life, and how do you maintain the artistic integrity of Monet's works?
JNS: Whenever presenting any artist's work in a new way, be that a musician, composer or a painter, there will always be a question regarding the artist's integrity. However the question is what would the artist have done for himself or herself given the same means? In Monet's case this is easy to answer. If you look at his water lily paintings, he himself already wrote that he painted them in such a large format and without the perspective of a horizon so that the spectator would fully immerse themselves in the painting. Therefore, making his art immersive in the modern sense seems to be very close to what Monet himself wanted to achieve with his art.

How is the narrative approach incorporated throughout the show, and how does it enhance the visitor's journey?
JNS: In understanding an artist's art it is always important to understand the context of it. Be that the historical context or even the very private personal context of the artist himself. Being able to see a painting while understanding the context is what makes this experience almost intimate.

Considering the success in other locations, how do you anticipate the Swedish audience's response?
JNS: We surely hope that the Swedish audience will also learn more and get to love Monet as many others did before.

Are there plans to take Monet's Garden to other locations after Sweden, and do you have any future projects or ideas in the realm of immersive art experiences that you're excited about?
JNS: As a producer and promoter there is always the next project around the corner. This is one of the great privileges of our profession, but nothing to be released just yet.