Inside ‘Prince: The Immersive Experience’
Your legs straddle the frame of a small, purple Hondamatic that sits beside Minneapolis’ First Avenue. Your gaze falls to the graffiti-covered walls and doors, and your heart quickens slightly as you rev the engine. Vroom, vroom. It’s dark and smoky – no filter necessary – and for a moment, it’s 1984. All that’s missing is Apollonia. Today, you’re the star of Prince’s musical drama Purple Rain, and Instagram is still 26 years from existence. Nostalgia reigns.
In reality, it’s 2022, and you’ve just ducked into a storefront on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue to remember the man and his legacy. Hopefully, you’ve brought along an Instagram spouse. If not, the staff at Prince: The Immersive Exhibit – presented by a partnership between Superfly, the production company that also brought The Office and Friends exhibits to the space, and the Prince Estate – is happy to help. And not just with the motorcycle pics.
They invite you to dig, if you will, the picture, of yourself reenacting the “When Doves Cry” video, among nine other interactive experiences. The scene is perfectly set with lilacs strewn on the floor and a steaming bathtub — but don’t disrobe and jump in. Later, you can grab a few shots in a room dedicated to the Diamonds and Pearls era, filled with torches, candelabras and, of course, diamonds and pearls, before setting off to a DJed Prince dance party in an audiovisual space inspired by Prince’s Glam Slam and designed by his lighting and production manager, Roy Bennett. You can also take a digital personality quiz to get your personalized Prince playlist.
There’s more to it than that. In practical terms, it’s like a Paisley Park road show, featuring a combination of authentic Prince artifacts and detailed replicas. A reverent look at the late musician’s life and work, it’s equal parts a remembrance, a thrilling sense of “what if” you had been there and an examination of what he left behind. You can view photos from the exhibit below.
To learn more about the man, focus on what appears between the social media fodder in the approximately 16,000-square-foot space: larger-than-life timelines pointing to formative moments in his Minneapolis upbringing; a maze of album covers that show the full discography from a prolific career; designs and costumes from the Purple Rain tour and the famous Super Bowl show; instruments; video interviews played on a loop; never-before-seen photos of the performer; and walls adorned with quotes on artists’ rights and social justice.
But for those most interested in the music itself, there’s a recreation of Prince’s Paisley Park Studio A, complete with 5-Hour Energy drinks on the shelf, where you can remix “Let’s Go Crazy” using controls to isolate different instruments.
For the superfans, many of whom show up clad in purple, the exhibit doesn’t go into great depth. But for others, it provides a primer on Prince’s evolution of his career in music, film, fashion and advocacy. Superfly has hopes to travel with the exhibit, but specific plans have not been disclosed.