Some people want balloons for their birthdays. Nauticus wanted more. In celebration of its 25th birthday, Nauticus is inviting everyone to visit ALBESILA Luminarium in downtown Norfolk.
Spanning the MacArthur Center Green, the Luminarium’s labyrinth welcomes visitors to lose themselves in the 27 egg-shaped domes with sounds, different shapes, and changing colors. The structure is half the size of a football field, and one dome reaches 73 feet tall. My boys and I were able to check out the experience during the opening reception, and I’m so glad we did.
When we first began to enter the Luminarium, we had to remove our shoes. There were racks on the side to put them, and chairs on which to sit if needed. Once we entered the main part of the work of art, it felt alien and intriguing. We all decided that the best experience was to take it slow and not rush. The sun lit the Luminarium, and it created a glow of color in each different room. We were told that the colors of the rooms were designed so that they came together in a room nearby to create yet a different color. Remember those art color wheels? Experience them here.
When we moved from room to room (or pod to pod, egg to egg), our eyes readjusted to the change in color, which was an experience of its own. There was also ethereal sounds that made us feel like we were in another realm. Up above, some of the pods had designs that looked like they were lit up with electricity, but it was just the sun coming through the different colors of the fabric. It was very disorientating to stare up at it with everything going on around us. If you really want to feel off-kilter, stand in the middle, look up, and twirl. We did this a few times; I nearly fell over.
Other “ceilings” had intricate geometric designs that seemed more like a space-age film. At times while I walked through the artistic mass, I was reminded of the creepy boat scene from the 1971 Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (without the fear of dying). The amazing thing was that the longer we stayed in it, and the less mobile we became, the more we felt the experience. We really started seeing the colors come together to create something new. Keep that in mind as you visit the display: take your time and don’t rush. The Luminarium won’t be in Norfolk for long, but my kids want to return (the oldest didn’t want to leave).
The British-based Architects of Air Luminarium will be open to the public in Downtown Norfolk from April 12th through the 21st. Accessible rain or shine, hours run Monday through Friday (noon to 6pm) and weekends (10am to 6pm). You can find out about ticket pricing, combo tickets, and priority access on Nauticus’s webpage.