Claude Monet and the Impressionists brought to life in a cutting-edge art exhibition

People walking through a room in which Monet's 'Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies' is projected on every surface at the Lume

Nicola Dowse

Posted October 12, 2022

Immerse yourself in the art of Claude Monet and Impressionism this October at Melbourne's innovative Monet & Friends Alive exhibition.

It's been more than a century since Claude Monet painted his famous waterlilies from his garden in Giverny, France. 

Renowned for painting outdoors and capturing nature in the moment, it’s safe to say that the artist probably never imagined that one day his works would be showcased in a four-storey gallery using large-scale digital projection and animation. 

From October 26, the Lume – Melbourne’s purpose-built immersive gallery – will host Monet & Friends Alive, an exploration of Monet and his fellow Impressionists that positions guests within the paintings themselves. 

“What we've done in the immersive experience is really tried to capture that spontaneity, that really quick brushstroke work, and that energy that comes through with Impressionist art and translate that into immersive art,” says Gary Moynihan, Head of Creative Design for the Lume’s parent company, Grande Experiences.

Monet & Friends is showing at the Lume from October 26, 2022. Plan your journey there using arevo.

A different type of art gallery

As one of the founding fathers of Impressionism (not to mention one of the best-known and most popular artists of all time), Monet has featured in countless exhibitions around the world. 

But the Lume isn’t your typical gallery, nor is Monet & Friends Alive your typical exhibition. 

"We're really combining that kind of physical and digital world together,” Moynihan says. “We actually started as a traditional exhibition company where we would display artefacts and text.” 

“Over time, we've kind of evolved into more immersive and multi-sensory experiences.”

After presenting their signature immersive experiences around Australia, the Melbourne-based company returned to their hometown, opening a permanent space at Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre (just around the corner from RACV City Club) in November 2021. 

The opening exhibition, Van Gogh, was an instant hit, bringing an estimated 700,000 visitors through the doors over the course of the year thanks to its fresh approach to art appreciation.

Van Gogh saw the artist’s famous sunflowers, self-portraits and starry nights projected in a four-storey space purpose-built for immersive art, with a mezzanine level allowing visitors to view the art from every angle.


The Lume's Monet & Friends exhibition fully immerses you within the paintings of 14 Impressionist artists.
The multi-sensory exhibition is perfect for all ages, with interactive elements and a French-inspired café.

Immersive Impressionism 

Guests to Monet & Friends Alive can expect a similarly immersive experience to Van Gogh, with an expansion of the exhibition narrative to capture the broader culture of France during the Impressionist movement. 

While Monet is the headliner, the exhibition stars a total of 14 artists across 800 paintings that showcase the revolutionary artistic era. 

“Impressionism was a real kind of moment in time,” Moynihan says. “A number of different things all came together within a very short space of time that facilitated this completely different way of creating artworks.” 

“It was much more spontaneous.”

That spontaneity will be projected throughout the Lume, but Monet & Friends Alive isn’t solely a visual spectacle. 


Around 800 Impressionist paintings are showcased in the exhibition, including some of the best known.
Monet & Friends has plenty of photo opportunities, including a recreation of the bridge at Monet's garden in Giverny.

Art for all the senses 

Exhibitions at the Lume are pegged as ‘multi-sensory’ with audio, olfactory, tactile and even gustatory elements to the experience as well.  

The artworks are complemented by a classical music score filled with songs by French composers of the time, while an aroma is also diffused through the gallery to recreate the environments that the Impressionists famously painted in and were inspired by. 

“We've tried to capture an outdoors, kind of fresh scent that almost recreates what it's like to be out 'en plein air’ in the landscape painting,” says Moynihan.  

“So you can imagine the artists of this period setting up their canvases in the great outdoors and being able to kind of smell the lavender and the environment there.” 

Where guests to Van Gogh could walk through a sunflower infinity room and explore a recreation of the artist’s Bedroom in Arles, visitors to Monet & Friends Alive will have similar photo opportunities to explore. 

“We’re effectively recreating Monet’s studio. We'll have a lot of easels set up, and people can come and kind of have a bit of a doodle,” Moynihan says.  

“There will be another infinity room that's inspired by Monet’s water lily pond in Giverny, and we’ve also got a photo opportunity of Monet’s bridge in Giverny.” 

And if you’re after a true ‘taste’ of Impressionism, the Lume is also bringing back its café which will feature a menu inspired by French cuisine and wine.  

“I think the beauty with the Lume and we're what we do here is there is no right or wrong way to experience it,” says Moynihan. 

“The best way to enjoy it is to just come as you are.”