Immersive exhibitions and experiences continue to dazzle visitors across London in 2024. Whether it’s interactive inflatable art, a magical botanical garden brought to life through your smartphone or one of the world’s most famous artists being given the full multi-sensory spin, the capital’s culture scene has gone high-tech. Here we’ve rounded up the ground-breaking installations you won’t want to miss.
Immersive Exhibitions in London
Frameless opened in Marble Arch in 2022 and has swiftly cemented itself as a go-to spot for immersive art in London. Spanning an incredible 30,000 feet, it’s the largest permanent multi-sensory experience in the UK. Escape reality in four galleries, which together showcase 42 digital interpretations of masterpieces by 29 of the world’s most famous artists. Think 90 minutes of hypnotic visuals accompanied by a dazzling score.
In the first room, Beyond Reality, dream-like worlds are created with pieces by Klimt, Ernst and Munch splashed across the walls, while the second is a symphony of colour, exploring pieces by Monet, Van Gogh and Seurat. The World Around Us is the central topic in the third gallery, which uses spectacular six-sided projection to depict arresting landscapes by Cezanne and Rembrandt on show. The final gallery is dedicated to the pioneers of abstract art, with vivid colourscapes by Kandinsky, Mondrian and Klee. This is art as you’ve never seen it before.
6 Marble Arch, Marble Arch, London W1H 7AP
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms
Until 28 April
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms may have been running since May 2021, but getting your hands on a ticket is still proving tricky, with the latest batches selling out almost as soon as they’re released. Hence the need to keep extending the exhibition’s run, which is now booking until April next year.
Yayoi Kusama’s Instagram-famous Infinity Mirror Rooms are known the world over, and this iteration at Tate Modern features two of her most spectacular installations. The first, Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with The Brilliance of Life, features a walkway of mirrored tiles, with thousands of tiny LED lights twinkling from the ceiling and reflected in a seemingly endless cascade of mirrors. Alongside that sits Chandelier of Grief, which features a rotating chandelier of Swarovski crystals. Do whatever you can to nab yourself a ticket – this is one multi-sensory experience not to be missed.
Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
Until 18 February
Following editions in Paris, New York and Rome, the Balloon Museum has floated into Billingsgate Market with EmotionAir, one of the latest immersive exhibitions in London. The show, which is curated by Antonella Di Lullo, explores the link between art and emotions through the medium of inflatable art. Installations by twenty contemporary artists are on display over three floors, most of which visitors are invited to interact with (it is, incidentally, Instagram gold).
All the pieces are designed to stimulate our senses. One by Karina Smigla-Bobinski called Kaleidoscope is a room awash with bright hues, with a large table which visitors are invited to touch to change the seemingly endless colour combinations. A different area is filled with large pink rabbits by visual artist Momoyo Torimitsu. In another, giant black-and-white patterned orbs are suspended from the roof, which you’re invited to throw and run between. There’s even a huge yellow room called Hyperfeeling, with a giant ball pit to jump into.
1 Old Billingsgate Walk, City of London, London EC3R 6DX
Outernet London – the capital’s home of immersive entertainment – welcomes a new creature to its 360-degree floor-to-ceiling screens. This time a jellyfish. Forsaken bills itself as an immersive short film with a big message, and is the work of award-winning photographer and director Roland Lane, Frameless producers and visual effects studio Cinesite.
The film details the extraordinary life story of the immortal jellyfish, so called because it has the ability to reverse its life cycle. Made in collaboration with Greenpeace, as well as highlighting the breathtaking beauty of our oceans and these remarkable otherworldly creatures that populate it, it also serves to remind us that our planet is in crisis. It will be screened three times a day and is free to watch. Ambassadors for the planet-protecting charity will be on site at the Outernet pop-up space on 6 and 7 February to share their insight into how we can help save our seas.
The Now Building, Outernet London, Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 8LH
Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience
The Old Truman Brewery
One of the first major blockbuster immersive art exhibitions to kick off the art trend, Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience is an all-consuming show that brings some of the artist’s most famous works to life via a series of different mediums. Having popped-up in cities all over the world and different venues around London, the show is now in a former 19th century stable building on Commercial Street, opposite Old Spitalfields Market.
At over 17,000 sq ft, the exhibition is spread over three floors. The main Immersive Room is in the triple height atrium, an impressive space that features 360-degree, two story projections of the artist’s most compelling works. These include Starry Night and Sunflowers, among over 300 other sketches, drawings and paintings – in a spellbinding feat that makes it feel as if you are walking into the paintings themselves. Alongside, there’s a ten-minute VR experience which takes you through a day in the life of the artist, as well as the chance to make your own Van Gogh-esque pictures and have them projected onto the walls.
106 Commercial Street, Spitalfields, London E1 6LZ
This mind-bending experience in Oxford Circus is dedicated to optical illusions, hence its name. Twist stands for ‘The Way I See Things’. Developed in collaboration with artists, psychologists, philosophers, mathematicians and neuroscientists, it’s a trip down the rabbit hole into a world of illusions that allows us to explore what happens when all our senses are deceived. What effect does that have on the brain, for example? And how do these stimuli shape our sense of reality?
Exhibits include one of the world’s oldest optical illusions, a 500-year-old painting by Hans Holbein the Younger with a hidden skull that can only be viewed from a certain angle, shown alongside some of the newest. Colours change before your very eyes; kaleidoscopic patterns dance across the walls; and audio tracks play tricks on your ears as you wander through the various rooms. Featuring more than 60 exhibits by artists including British reverspective artist Patrick Hughes and Dr. Akiyoshi Kitaoka, who has collaborated with Jeff Koons and Lady Gaga, it will leave you questioning everything you thought you knew about your senses.
248 Oxford Street, Oxford Circus, London, W1C 1DH
First staged in Seoul, Delight comes to SE1. The immersive art exhibition combines visuals, sound and augmented reality to bring to life the spirit and cultural heritage of the vibrant capital of South Korea. The show is the creation of Seoul-based artist Gyoungtae Hong and director Younsook Im who have transformed Borough Yards with 12 large-scale digital installations that draw on over 1000 years of the Asian city’s history.
Each different ‘zone’ encourages the visitor to consider how the past is reflected in contemporary Korean society today. In one area, for example, 631 glowing lights change colour during the day, the number representing each year from the Joseon Dynasty to modern-day Seoul. In another space, you’ll be immersed in the streets of Seoul, all neon lights, music and sirens. A spellbinding way to tap into the current zeitgeist of Korean culture.
Borough Yards, Stoney Street, Southwark, London, SE1 9AD
The Butterfly Trail
A cutting-edge show dedicated to butterflies has fluttered into the Now Building, part of Outernet London. Designed by Pixel Artworks, The Butterfly Trail is the world’s first mixed reality experience, pushing the boundaries of digital design and experiential technology. And it’s free. As you’re invited to make your way through the intrepid explorer Professor Peter Pelgrin’s Botanical Workshop, into his Glass House, expect a breathtaking display.
Floors, walls and ceilings have been transformed into a magical botanical garden thanks to four-story high wraparound screens. Visitors can also interact and explore the experience using just their smartphone. At the touch of a button, real-time animations are triggered and magical AR butterflies released, meaning that you’ll be able to hold your very own butterfly on the tip of your finger.
The Now Building, Centre Point, Fitzrovia, London WC2H 8LH
The Moonwalkers: A Journey with Tom Hanks
Lightroom, King’s Cross
Until 21 April
And after Hockney comes Tom Hanks. The American actor narrates The Moonwalkers: A Journey with Tom Hanks. The immersive show promises to take visitors on a lunar journey to discover a one-of-a-kind perspective on humankind’s past and future voyages to the moon. Hanks – who has had a lifelong passion for space – co-wrote The Moonwalkers with double BAFTA-nominated writer-director Christopher Riley, and it’s accompanied by a spine-tingling score by Anne Nikitin.
The show tells the stories of the Apollo missions, with original NASA footage and astonishing imagery from Andy Saunders’ extraordinary book Apollo Remastered. Recent interviews between Hanks and the astronauts of the current Artemis programme give an insight into the return of crewed surface missions to the moon. With Lightroom’s cutting-edge projection and audio technology transforming the immense space once again, this will no doubt be out of this world.
Lightroom, 12 Lewis Cubitt Square, King’s Cross, London N1C 4DY
Latent Spaces at Illusionaries
Crossrail Place, Canary Wharf
Until 29 February
Illusionaries in Canary Wharf is an experiential art hub showcasing cutting-edge digital art, blurring the lines between reality and illusion through light, sound and motion. New for Autumn is Latent Spaces which takes the visitor on a “transcendent linear journey through the senses” as they explore humankind’s collective unconscious through the eyes of AI.
Four very different spaces make up the journey, all of them brought to life by Markos Kay’s incredible visuals – presented for the first time to the public in an immersive format – and a soundtrack composed by Jesse Solomon Clark. One, Formation Space, looks at the beginning of life and is a vision of mirrors; another, Complexity Space, uses 360° visuals to depict never-before seen environments and lifeforms.
Crossrail Place, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AR
Horizon of Khufu
London Stratford Westfield City
Horizon of Khufu welcomes in a new era for virtual reality, bringing the wonders of Ancient Egypt to east London. Visitors will be transported back some 4,500 years to the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the seven wonders of the world and the land of the Pharaohs. The tech has been developed by virtual reality studio Excurio in partnership with Egyptologist Peter Der Manuelian at Harvard University, using archaeological and historical data.
The 45-minute expedition sees ‘travellers’ immersed in an ancient civilisation as they are led by virtual guide Mona to discover the great pyramid and all its treasures. As they ascend the 146-metre-high landmark at sunset, they’ll crawl through ancient burial chambers, witnessing mummification ceremonies and navigating the Nile by boat to attend the funeral of King Khufu, creator of the Giza Pyramids, as they go. The 360-degree views are said to be extraordinary.
London Stratford Westfield City, 157 Montfichet Road, Stratford, London E20 1EJ
Turn it Up: The Power of Music
Science Museum, South Kensington
Until 6 May
The toe-tapping, foot-stomping Turn it Up: The Power of Music is an immersive glimpse into the science of music and how technology has helped make music more accessible to all. It’s very hands-on, with plenty of interactives including a newly commissioned “musical playground” where visitors can play with beat, melody and harmonies.
There’s also a chance to meet Haile, a musical robot and see the pioneering MiMU Gloves, used by artists like Ariana Grande to make gestures that control music-making software live on stage. Keep an eye out for the display of unusual instruments like the Pyrophone, an organ powered by flames. A fun, family-friendly way to further understand what music means to us and how it can unlock our feelings and emotions.
Science Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD