Experiencing the light fantastic at the Amos Rex museum in Helsinki, Finland


The newly opened self-proclaimed “museum for all”, Amos Rex museum, in Helsinki‘s landscaped Lasipalatsi Square, forms part of a large-scale cultural space that includes a cinema, an artistic workshop and an education space.

The 6,230 square meter building is almost entirely underground, and bubbles into the public sphere through a series of concrete domes that are decorated in funky geometric patterns. The five domes, which double as a sloping playground, are topped with skylights made of steel and glass.

Inside, the museum feels classically Scandinavian, with crisp, white space and plenty of light. However this all changes as you make your way downstairs to the museum’s Massless exhibition.

Experiencing the light fantastic

The subterranean Massless exhibition is the brainchild of international digital art collective, teamLab, and consists of a series of interactive 3D installations. Black fabric covers almost every inch of exhibition space in order to provide a dark enough backdrop to display the colourful projections.

The first room, titled “Black Waves”, is inspired by Japanese paintings and features a series of lines which mimic the continuous movement of waves as they roll and crash against each other. The waves seem completely three dimensional, and have a mesmerising quality that is amplified by the accompanying sound effects.

In the next room: “Graffiti Nature: Lost, Immersed and Reborn” visitors are presented with an interactive ecosystem of plants and animals that bloom, swim, jump and fly through the room in a riot of colour. Whales swim and twirl on the floor, frogs hop along the walls and butterflies flit amongst the flowers.

Visitors can add animals into the landscape by scanning their coloured-in drawings into the system. The circle of life is visible for all to see, as flowers bloom and die and animals catch and eat their prey. It’s mesmerising.

In contrast to the dazzling colours of “Graffiti Nature”, the next room we wandered into was a vast space called the “Vortex of Light Particles”. Inspired by the movement of water, the installation features a series of flowing blue particles that flow towards the skylight, creating a kind of virtual vortex. Hidden at the back of the room is a black curtain that leads to the final light installation entitled “Crows…”

The seemingly innocuous room is suddenly filled with light and sound as a flock of crows soar around the room, creating a euphoric and somewhat dizzying sensation. The crows crash into each other and transform into colourful flowers. The music ends, and the room falls into darkness. The installation is rendered in real time by a computer programme, and is therefore in constant change.