The NewSLU

The Student News Site of Saint Louis University Madrid Campus

The NewSLU

The NewSLU

Movie-Sized, Animated Earthly Delights

About three weeks after she first moved to Madrid in 2021, college student Kamila Ramirez went to El Matadero to see the immersive exhibit El Jardín de las Delicias. Named after and based on the work of famous Spanish painter El Bosco, the exhibit included 3D animations, AI-generated additions to the original painting, and accompanying sound effects.

The walls in the large, dimly-lit room were covered by black curtains that gave it an outer-world, floating feel, and the pieces in display were arranged as a path. Framed GIFs, neon statues of creatures in the original painting and bright-colored, abstract posters led to a movie-theater sized screen that played a psychedelic-induced-looking animated version of El Jardín de Las Delicias. Visitors could sit and watch the film for as long as they pleased.

Ramirez remembers being amazed. In her home country, the Dominican Republic, she had never encountered a cultural attraction that was as modern or innovative.

“I think I was silent for a whole hour after we exited the exhibit. I was so shocked and impressed,” she said. “It made me realize how much Madrid has to offer culturally.”

Ramirez does not typically enjoy going to art museums, but the high-tech element of this exhibit made the artwork easily digestible and entertaining.

“Seeing so many modern re-interpretations of a single piece of art was really interesting,” she said.

While Ramirez found it inspiring, the high-art-turned-fun trope is not for everyone. Madi Von Luft, an American college student living in Madrid, went to an immersive exhibit called El Mundo de Van Gogh that featured three-dimensional installations of the artist’s major works created with artificial intelligence.

“It was really small, and immediately pushed you into an overpriced gift shop,” she said. She had paid 20 euros for her entrance ticket.

The ticket for the Jardín de las Delicias exhibit Ramirez went to cost her 14 euros. General tickets for El Matadero’s Pompeii exhibit cost 22 euros on weekends and 17 on weekdays.

Many of these experiences have general entrance prices and offer variations of them for specific demographics. El Mundo de Van Gogh offers a 33% discount from their general 21-euro entrance fee to college students and senior citizens. Mundo Pixar is free for children younger than three.

Madrid native Rocio Palomino paid 21 euros for her ticket to Mundo Pixar. She is certainly not part of the 90% of visitors that employee Jabonero sees leave the exhibit satisfied. “I wouldn’t pay 10 euros for that,” she said, shrugging. “It was definitely not worth the money it costs.”

Regardless, business is booming, and the presence of immersive experiences in Madrid is only growing bigger.

MAD is opening its next exhibit named “Titanic” in El Matadero this fall, according to a spokesperson of Madrid Destino. The NOMAD museum will also inaugurate new experiences soon, including one called “The Happiness Museum.”

Many are content to passively ride along the interactive-experience train see it as one of Madrid’s many positive features. Just outside the exit of Mundo Pixar, middle-aged Fernando Cacera sits with his 8-year-old son in front of a cart selling snacks and drinks. The little girl holding Buzz Lightyear has now calmed down, and Jabonero is still taking family photos somewhere in the background.

Cacera did not have high expectations coming to the exhibit. His son couldn’t stop talking about a Harry Potter theme park they had been to in England the year prior, and while he knew this wouldn’t be as impressive, he was willing to invest in the kinds of activities that could make his family happy.

“It was a gamble I think, but he liked it, didn’t you son?” he asks, looking down at the child next to him. His son grins, nodding while sipping on a large cup of soda through a straw. Cacera smiles at him.

“You have to come into these things with an open mind, and just enjoy whatever they turn out to be.”

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Movie-Sized, Animated Earthly Delights