The largest digital art center in the world is in France, and it’s probably not where you’d expect. Instead of being housed in a newly built, modern facility, the center for art is located in Bordeaux’s former World War II submarine base, an immense concrete structure built by the occupying Germans in 1943.
Parts of the highly unusual concrete and steel space comprised of four large ponds had been repurposed for temporary artistic and cultural events in the past, but they are now devoted to permanent exhibitions. After a seven-week delay due to France’s coronavirus lockdown, Les Bassins de Lumières (The Ponds of Lights) digital art center opened on June 10 with an amazing, immersive display of Gustav Klimt and Paul Klee’s work projected on the venue’s walls and reflected in the ponds’ water.
In light of the global health crisis, visitors are only allowed to purchase tickets online, are temperature-checked at the entrance, and must use masks and hand sanitizer while inside the museum. Given the immense size of the space, however, social distancing shouldn’t be an issue. Augustin de Cointet, the museum’s director, told The Guardian, “Everyone has at least five square metres of individual space. The rules are there, but discreet, as we want everyone to enjoy the full experience.”
Culturespaces, the company behind the Atelier des Lumières in Paris, is responsible for this fantastic project. The Atelier des Lumières’ first exhibition, an immersive display of Van Gogh’s artwork, was extremely successful.
The space will be open seven days a week year-round. Exhibitions will change each year.
A version of this article was previously published on December 2, 2019, and was updated on June 15, 2020, with more information.