Perception digital art museum debuts on the Las Vegas Strip

Immersive art experiences are pouring into Vegas these days, from Omega Mart and Van Gogh to Area15 to Arcadia Earth on the Strip.

Perception, the new freestanding digital art museum on the boulevard just north of Circus Circus, bills itself as the first permanent attraction of its kind in Las Vegas, and it certainly stands out in its own way.

The 17,000 square foot site launched earlier this month with Leonardo: the universal man, which recounts the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci. Perception will rotate exhibits from there, with tickets ranging from $19 to $35. A free parking is available.

The hour-long, three-gallery experience begins with “The Gallery: The Mona Lisa Perception,” featuring six digital versions of the “Mona Lisa,” hung in one room. At first they appear to be replicas of the famous painting, but when you stand in front of them they come to life, displaying living LED art. On the back wall, facts about da Vinci’s life are displayed while Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” plays over the speakers.

The second room “Painting with Light: The Last Supper” is a visual expedition of light and sound. The room is rather dark, with dim but colorful lighting projected onto the walls and ceiling, accompanied by an original score. This all leads to a grand finale, the unveiling of “The Last Supper,” da Vinci’s famous depiction of Jesus and the 12 Apostles. Younger audiences will likely enjoy the Vegas-esque, rave-y experience.

The third and final chapter of Perception, “Grand Salon: Chapters in the Life of Genius,” takes place in a 28-foot-tall four-wall theater. Here, a 35-minute film is shown, showcasing the achievements of Leonardo da Vinci. Spectators will see cathedrals take shape and his ornithopter flying machine take flight. It provides a soothing feeling after the excitement of the first two rooms.

The perception comes from the imagination of nightlife pioneer Robert Frey and entrepreneur Ned Collett. Dutch multidisciplinary creative agency TWOFIFTYK, which has created digital entertainment like the Electric Daisy Carnival, has been recruited to help bring the artwork to life.

Debuting with a da Vinci exhibit was a no-brainer for Frey, a big fan of the Italian polymath. “I think there are so many things you can address. Besides his paintings, he was a scientist – studying the architecture of the body – and he was a phenomenal set designer for the theatre,” explains Frey. “He was a mathematician… his mind was amazing. He was 200 or 300 years away from everyone. Everything he has done is simply remarkable.

Sometimes these immersive experiences can feel somewhat overwhelming, a bit of sensory overload for the unprepared. But while serious art lovers might balk, a place like Perception can bring a new perspective to more casual viewers open to absorbing art in a more modern way. After all, what if Leonardo da Vinci never brought his unconventional ideas to art, anatomy, or engineering?

PERCEPTION 2780 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-476-9069, perceptionlasvegas.com. Daily, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., $19 to $35.

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About Margaret L. Portillo

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