From the people who brought live Metropolitan Opera performances to a movie theater near you comes the next big-screen cultural attraction: museum art exhibits from around the world.
It begins today with a retrospective devoted to the portraits by Edouard Manet from the Royal Academy of Arts in London, screened to 450 theaters across the U.S. and about 600 around the globe, with many locations scheduling encore broadcasts.
Locally, the film will be screened at 7:30 p.m. today at Regal Park Place Stadium 16, 7200 U.S. 19 N, Pinellas Park; AMC Woodlands Square 20, 3128 Tampa Road, Oldsmar; and AMC Regency 20, 2496 W Brandon Blvd., Brandon.
Two more exhibits are lined up: a June retrospective on the art of Edvard Munch from the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway, and an October showing of works by Johannes Vermeer from the National Gallery in London.
Unlike the live opera broadcasts, the art presentations are slickly produced documentaries giving viewers a VIP guided tour of current or recently ended exhibitions from noted art historian Tim Marlow, who lingers on each of the displayed works and explains why they are special. Curator interviews, artist profiles and backstage tours fill out the 90-minute, high-definition show — for an average price of $12.50.
"This is a way for an armchair traveler to come to the arts world, have it brought to them," said Julie Borchard-Young, co-owner of BY Experience, the company distributing the broadcasts.
But will art exhibits work at the movies?
Borchard-Young said By Experience was encouraged by the response to what served as the pilot for its art exhibit series: "Leonardo Live," a film on the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at London's National Gallery that was viewed by 125,000 people in 21 countries.