Meet The Masters - art experience
The immersive experience 'Meet the Masters' enables visitors to discover the work and life of three famous painters from an innovative perspective: 360° projections and animated figures make the paintings come to life. Although the three masters of the Middle Ages, Baroque and Renaissance, lived in three different centuries, their inspiring moments of life and genius thoughts are combined in one enjoyable projection & storytelling experience.

The experience starts with an impressive timeline of three centuries of art (14th, 15th and 16th century) in which the ages of the three grandmasters are marked as milestones. After this colourful introduction, the storyteller of your audioguide invites you to the first atelier of Jan Van Eyck, followed by Bruegel's and Rubens’s. Each atelier has an own atmosphere, dynamic and story. Storyteller ‘Master Arth’ has an easy conversation with all three of them about their lives as artists. He asks questions and expresses his admiration for their work. In the meantime, he speaks directly to the visitor and points out impressive details in the artwork of the masters.

While you listen, projections of 5-meter height appear. They show almost the total oeuvre of each painter. Due to this enlargement, you’ll see details that are difficult to admire in their real size. Displays in each atelier also explain in which museum you can see the original piece. This way, the visitor is invited to explore the original artwork one day in one of these museums.

After the acquaintance with each master, the visitor enters a 360° projection show. With visual art technology, we conjured the three Flemish Masters in one space. You hear them talk about their discovery of each other’s work and give comments while they lead the visitor's eye. The landscapes and backgrounds that surround the visitor change into a breath-taking spectacle.

The experience is not a museum, but it gives essential context about the three Flemish Masters using joyful storytelling, based on the input of an expert group of art historians and museum directors. In combination with a low-threshold approach, this experience is de ideal step-up to more museum visits.

Art in 360° technology
These Flemish Masters' paintings come to life has never felt so real. Whereas one minute you’ll find yourself part of the 'Adoration of the Mystic Lamb', the next you’re embarking on a ship setting sail for the 'Tower of Babel'. By using immersive projections, visitors experience the work of Jan Van Eyck, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens in detail. While listening to the joyful story of the audioguide, you enter even deeper into their realm as the story leads the visitor's eye. On the whole, this exhibition invites you to notice details you’ve never seen before, animated right before your eyes.

Impressive detailed projections
The use of high-resolution imagery and high-quality projections makes it possible to zoom in on significant details. Animations and special effects guide the visitor's eye through the enlarged paintings and emphasize the characteristics of each masters’ style. Thanks to the collaboration with museums worldwide, it was possible to receive the right quality images. It also confirmed the faith of the museum sector in this experience: the goal is to create a sense of marvel and understanding for these art areas, generating more museum visits in the long term.

A study by Hardie et al. (2020) tells us that Immersive Art Storytelling differentiates itself from traditional storytelling because the viewer becomes a passive participant. Storytelling in Immersive Art is not about telling the viewer a story but more about letting the viewer discover the story. The study shows that immersive stories activate multiple senses in the brain: motor, auditory, olfactory, somatosensory, and visual. The stimulation of these senses can help the visitor understand the essence of concepts and ideas personally and in a meaningful way. According to them, an immersive art experience can create unforgettable experiences that evoke emotions, making it easier to recall due to the power of their sensory associations.

One storyline
The three masters welcome the visitor each in the ateliers of their time. Here, their artworks come to life as they are telling live stories to the guests. In the end, they meet each other in the castle of Rubens, where they admire each other’s work and explain how one got -even a century later- inspired by the other. It enables the visitor to understand the masters’ great talents and the evolutions of the age they lived in.

Co-creation expert group
The artistic team of storytellers, researchers and visual artists collaborated intensively with art historians and scriptwriters. This resulted in an expertly compiled historical background for the animated projections, audioguide and soundscapes.

Production process
Meet the Masters is an idea, concept and realization of transformed the old heritage building ‘Palais de la Dynastie’ into the new cultural hotspot of Brussels, Belgium (as was also the case with the previous experience ‘Beyond Bruegel’). The whole expo has an automated show control to enable a fluent visitor experience. Thanks to this user-friendly automation, every member can easily start the show.

Artistic director Fréderique Malbranque took the lead in the concept and content creation. Together with a team of 3D artists and motion designers, he studied the artwork of Van Eyk, Bruegel and Rubens. With adjustments of the expert group, the team finalised the storyboard. Based on this storyboard, the animations could start. Thanks to the fine collaboration with museums worldwide that hold the original paintings of these masters, the 3D animation team could work with high quality and high-resolution images. The soundscapes and recordings of the voices of some famous actors were next. While the content was finetuned, an intense period of testing followed. Test patterns of the mappings, hardware engineering, and test audience reactions formed the basis for the final version.

We are very grateful to all the experts and sympathizers who supported and advised us to create a meaningful and educational art experience.