MAGNIFICENT MILE — Prince fans can immerse themselves in the artist’s music and impact at “Prince: The Immersive Experience,” the latest experience-driven exhibition to come to Chicago.
The 20,000-square-foot interactive shrine of sorts at 540 N. Michigan Ave., created in partnership with experience curators Superfly and The Prince Estate, invites visitors into rooms where they are taken on a journey through the artist’s work and life.
“This is an intensely unique music experience,” Maura Gaudio, senior director of partnerships and senior producer at the exhibit, said. “It allows people to physically, with all five senses, experience Prince.”
Different senses come to life as guests enter each room: sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste. Toward the beginning of the experience, the potent scent of lilacs and lavenders permeates the steamy space where “When Doves Cry” is recreated for visitors.
“Dearly beloved” guests can have their main character moment throughout the museum, but with more than just selfie stations.
The replica of Prince’s Studio A at Paisley Park allows folks to play the role of producer as they tinker with the music stems of his hit “Let’s Go Crazy.” There, each fader controls a separate instrument’s role in the song.
Another room, in partnership with Bose, is a dance floor illuminated by pulsing, technicolor lights to the tune of a live local DJ’s spinning Prince’s tracks. There, guests can “party like it’s 1999.”
And to wrap it up, guests go home with a uniquely curated playlist of Prince songs based on their mood and interests.
The curating of the experience was done to give an authentic, deep dive into “Prince’s impact on the world and music,” Gaudio said. The authenticity comes down to small details like the 5-hour Energy bottles and cups in the Studio A replica room.
Other highlights include sitting on the motorcycle from the “Purple Rain,” viewing previously unpublished images of Prince from his estate, and exhibits that highlight the artist’s role in activism and his hometown of Minneapolis.
The exhibit has already been well received, with some brought to tears for the artist who died in 2016 at age 57, organizers say.
“The fans coming through … are so ecstatic with this,” Gaudio said. “We keep hearing the sentiment that this is so unique from other experiences of this kind.”
“People start to tear up, because it’s so emotional and it’s so amazing seeing, and getting to experience Prince in this everlasting way.”
In addition to creating award-winning music, Prince was a renowned activist, advocating for social justice, artist rights and more. Though heralding from a few states away, Chicago is a fitting home for the exhibition given its rights-driven roots.
Visitors get to learn about Prince’s activism, through walls of images and displays, as well as videos sampling his interviews over the years.
As the Mag Mile sees turnover with its storefronts in recent years, the exhibition brings a more dynamic tourism to the famed shopping district.
The space, which used to be a Forever 21 store, is no stranger to such a hands-on experiential attraction. In the past, similar exhibitions for TV shows like “The Office” and “Friends” were held there.
“We’re a block away from Burberry and Neiman Marcus, but this is a completely accessible experience,” Gaudio said. “It’s another opportunity for local businesses and whatnot, bringing fans here.
“Prince fans, they travel.”
Tickets for the exhibition, which opens Thursday for a limited-time run, start at $39.50 here. The tickets are timed for half-hour entry slots throughout hours of operation.
Each visit is estimated to take an hour. Multiple time slots on opening weekend are sold out.
See more photos from the exhibition:
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: