My son sits calmly in a swing as the wind whistles above his head, lights flashing in hues of pink, green, and purple behind puffy clouds as if to indicate lightning. An owl peeks from one of the clouds, unconcerned of an impending thunderstorm. But there’s no sense of urgency. And neither kid nor animal flees for shelter because it’s all part of an indoor fantasy land, one of six installations included in Natura Obscura, an immersive-art experience in Englewood’s Museum of Outdoor Arts (MOA).
Running through December 29, the exhibit is billed part art museum and part augmented-reality experience. The idea of the all-ages exhibit is to allow visitors the chance to step into the artwork, hearing, smelling, touching, and exploring their surroundings.
“We have been interested in immersive experiences in the past and set a goal to create one a few years ago,” says MOA director of programs Tim Vacca. “We wanted to provide something that is outside of the box of what you would think of a traditional museum experience to be. We hope patrons leave with a feeling of wonderment, relaxation, and creatively charged.”
In partnership with immersive-experience design firm Prismajic, the exhibit features more than 30 Colorado-based artists and creatives asking the question, “What’s your nature?”
Combining art, sculpture, and digital technologies, visitors can take a self-guided tour through the installation—a world of whimsical aspen trees and woodland creatures, both fictional and real—aided by a blacklight flashlight. Casting it throughout reveals butterflies, geometric designs, and quotes by famous naturalists and philosophers. “Nature always wears the colors of spirit,” reads one by Ralph Waldo Emerson at the entrance to this neon-purple, imaginary world adorned in lace and faux aspen trees called Natura Obscura the Forest. Other installations include From Canyon to Cosmos: A Monk Dreams, comprising a nature-based, meditative film; and The Time Machine & Cabinet of Curiosities and Impossibilities, a quirky collection of antiques.
“All the creatures that you find spark your curiosity, even if you have none, because of all the UV painting,” says my 13-year-old son, Brody. “How much you learn is up to you because if you don’t want to search, it’s not as fun.”
Originally set to close September 29, the deadline was extended due to the exhibit’s popularity. “This is a one-of-a-kind installation that will never be seen again,” Vacca says. “Natura Obscura is completely unique, which is a great reason not to miss it.”
Need to Know: Natura Obscura is at the Museum of Outdoor Arts in the Englewood Civic Center Building, second floor (above the Englewood Public Library), 1000 Englewood Parkway #2-230, Englewood. Open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets range from $10 to $20 based on day of the week and time of purchase.