Let me tell you – we need to talk about all of these “immersive” NYC experiences

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Doesn’t it seem so all is this year immersive?

To name a few, NYC currently has or will soon welcome the immersive Gustav Klimt, the immersive Frida Kahlo, the immersive Claude Monet, the immersive King Tut, the immersive Encantoimmersive museum experiences, immersive theater, immersive holiday installations – you know.

In the two months I worked as time out new yorks Things to Do Editor, I received 165 emails with the word “immersive,” most of them PR pitches for new immersive experiences. I didn’t have a math degree, but that’s nearly four “immersive” emails per workday.

I have no problem with the experiences themselves. We often write about them because they are deservedly cool. I understand the desire to feel transported to another place, the magic of pretending to be the focus of a painting, and the yearning to consume as much culture as possible after being amid the pandemic was isolated. If immersive experiences help attract more people to art, I’m here. I have enjoyed the immersive exhibitions I have attended including the new Klimt show; It’s even housed in a new space dedicated to immersive events.

But I’m afraid we tend to only take in the immersive sensory details when we’re paying 50 cents/minute to be shoved into a dark room and forced to remain present. I’m afraid that every day we miss the immersive moments around us. Too often we only pay attention to the “immersive” aspects when we are literally paying for it.

Life is immersive.

Photo: Lukas Schulze, courtesy of Monet’s garden The Immersive Experience

Crispy yellow leaves flutter to the ground, crunching under sneakers. The subway plays a clacking etude between each stop. The fresh scent of eucalyptus wafts through the air at the Union Square Farmers’ Market. Squirrels scurry through the park with acorns hanging from their teeth.

However, squirrels, autumn leaves and eucalyptus do not have a PR team.

I’m afraid we tend to only notice the immersive sensory details when paying 50 cents/minute to be put in a dark room and forced to remain present.

So save your $35 this weekend and try a free experience. This is my time-out tip. I officially call these “immersive” experiences, although no one else is marketing them as such:

  • Have fun at the first Fungus Festival in NYC. What’s more immersive than walking through the forest and scouring the land for funky mushrooms? Join members of the New York Mycological Society at Randall’s Island for the first Fungus Festival in New York City on Sunday, October 23. They bring microscopes, mushroom tea samples, a microphone so you can listen to mushrooms, and nature walk guides. Now that’s what I call immersive.
  • Lace up your sneakers and head outside. There are free walking tours throughout the city, some guided and some DIY. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites here because there’s nothing quite as immersive as experiencing the sights, smells and sounds of New York City.
  • Ooh and ahh (and awwww) about all the cute dogs. Do you really want to forget your worries for the day? Spend your afternoon among the precious pups at the Halloween Dog Parade in Tompkins Square Park on Saturday, October 22nd. Whether you’re bringing your four-legged companion or just there to cheer on the pups, you’re sure to have a blast.
Inside the immersive Gustav Klimt: gold in motion
Photo: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan | Gustav Klimt: Gold in motion

And if you decide to go to one of the immersive brand experiences, that’s cool too! There is no lack of experience. For example, I mentioned the Klimt experience, which brings to life the artist’s floral and erotic paintings on walls, floors, and ceilings in dazzling colors. It’s so engrossing that I actually got dizzy at certain points. (PS If, like me, you are one of those people who would like to find out more about the artist and his time before experiencing the artwork, you can find information about this in the basement.)

Will I take 100 photos in the Immersive Frida Kahlo exhibition? You can bet on it. Will I enjoy the lavender aromas in the Immersive Monet exhibition? Can not Hardly Wait.

But I also try to see the “immersive” in the everyday, and I hope you will too.

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