Making art accessible

Wonderspaces brings artwork from international festivals and fairs to new audiences

Wonderspaces features art as a living experience. Customers buy tickets to enter the space that ranges from 20,000 to 25,000 square feet, and spend an average 90 minutes interacting with and immersing themselves in art. Sections are usually devoted to 13 or so participatory, immersive and interactive artworks. And each, says President and co-founder Jason Shin, “are always engaging.”

Based in Los Angeles, Wonderspaces has one permanent location in Scottsdale, Ariz., which opened in April 2019. There have also been ongoing multiple pop-ups in San Diego since 2017, and two more permanent locations opening this year in Philadelphia and Austin, Texas. The buildings are usually conversions of existing structures like a movie house with on-site parking.

Wonderspaces came from a desire to create an environment that would expose art previously considered niche to a broader market, Shin says. “We wanted to prove that we could create shows that would serve artists as well as visitors, whether they had a relationship with art or not. We are trying to fill the gap between art being seen just by niche audiences and art that is accessible to everyone.”

Key to that, he says, is “the ability to present extraordinary and wonderful artwork in an environment where friends, family, loved ones can gather and share a unique experience together.”

Artworks on display have included short films, interactive sculptures and room-scale installations. The artists “often take things that might be familiar,” Shin says, “and bend or alter them in some way that makes you look at them in new lights.”

Word of mouth, high-traffic locations, social media and print are the premium vehicles for reaching patrons. Looking to the future, Shin notes that visitor response has been “overwhelmingly positive. Our audience extends beyond the typical art consumer. We feel there are opportunities to reach people who are looking for places to spend time with loved ones all across the country.”

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