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Illuminarium Experiences announces plans for new Chicago venue

Construction expected to begin next year at iconic Navy Pier

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Chicago Illuminarium Rendering

Illuminarium Experiences, a global experiential entertainment company, is planning to open a new space at Chicago’s Navy Pier, following a successful launch in Atlanta and joining other US locations, Miami and Las Vegas. The company is aiming to open several venues in major cities around the globe over the next five years.

Construction of the 32,000 square-foot entertainment experience at Navy Pier’s Crystal Gardens is expected to begin next year, designed by architecture firms Rockwell Group and Perkins & Will.

A place that can take you anyplace

Illuminarium is described as ‘a place that can take you anyplace’. These venues help to transport visitors to guests that they previously could only dream of experiences, placing them inside the narrative and engaging all senses for a fully immersive experience, without the need for VR wearables. The company will invest over $30 million in the redevelopment of Navy Pier in Chicago through innovative design and cutting-edge technology.

“We are thrilled that the future home of Chicago’s Illuminarium is the iconic Navy Pier,” says 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,” adds 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.”

Immersive safari experience

The first experience at the new Chicago venue will be WILD: A Safari Experience, showcasing Africa’s most exotic animals in their natural habitat and transporting 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). This was filmed on location across South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania, and footage is complemented by authentic sounds and scents.

Following this, guests will be able to enjoy SPACEWALK, taking them on a journey through the Solar System, where they can experience what it is like surface of the Moon and Mars.

Visitors to the new venue can also experience The Bar at Illuminarium, designed and developed by the LAB at Rockwell Group, where they will be immersed in digital settings, from a city street in Tokyo to fantastical dreamscapes, while enjoying cocktails and curated eats. Powered by game engines, this provides cinematic, real-time visuals that may never appear the same way twice.

Each venue also adheres to state-of-the-art, post-COVID safety protocols, with air purification systems and a contactless environment. The first location opened on Atlanta’s BeltLine this summer, with a space at AREA15 in Las Vegas set to open in December 2021 and a Miami venue expected in autumn 2022.

To find out more about the concept and its creation, as well as the partners involved, read our in-depth interview with Greenberg here.

Top image: Chicago interior rendering, credit Rockwell Group

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charlotte coates

Charlotte Coates

Charlotte Coates is blooloop's editor. She is from Brighton, UK and previously worked as a librarian. She has a strong interest in arts, culture and information and graduated from the University of Sussex with a degree in English Literature. Charlotte can usually be found either with her head in a book or planning her next travel adventure.

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