Culturespaces and IMG have transformed the base of the historic Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank into Hall des Lumières, a multi-level immersive art exhibition and cultural venue at 49 Chambers Street in the Civic Center section of Lower Manhattan. Now open to the public, the 33,000-square-foot space represents a multinational collaboration among 3D projection artists, local design studios, historic preservation teams, and sound designers.
The Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank was constructed between 1909 and 1912 and is regarded as one of New York City’s most impressive examples of the Beaux Arts architectural style. Within the ornate, frieze-embellished façade is a grand hall and banking room with ceiling spans up to 40 feet. Much of the bank’s original interior architecture is still intact including century-old glass panels, brass work, limestone carvings, and beehive motifs.
As a result, the ground-floor was recognized by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) as a city landmark in 1985. The LPC signed off on a transformation of the space in August 2021.
Today, the main level of the exhibition begins with a visual history of the works of Gustav Klimt, a renowned Austrian painter known for the use of rich colors, abstract portraiture, and romantic portrayal of the subjects. Set to a dramatic soundtrack, Klimt’s artwork is mapped across the venue’s multi-story columns, marble walls, skylights, floors, and ceilings. At times, the images unstitch and zoom out of view as if tempting the audience.
Following Klimt, the curated experience transitions to feature works by fellow Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and an up-tempo dance and body movement presentation.
The design team also transformed the bank’s vault on the lower level into a mirrored prism with a singular screen positioned at the front of the room. The result is an infinity illusion with abstract shapes and fractals swirling around each visitor.
Throughout the space, there are more than 120 projectors. According to IMG, this sets a new global record for the most projectors within one permanent immersive venue.
Ticket prices will start at $30 for adults and $15 for youth ages five to 16. Children under the age of five can enter at no cost. Special rates are also available for seniors ages 65 and older, as well as members of the military.