Alan Greenberg is the visionary impresario who is trending in Atlanta headlines based on the mega announcement that he will open what’s touted as the world’s first Illuminarium on the Atlanta BeltLine in July. Its details, application and impact are poised to astound.
Here the AJT gets the scoop on Greenberg’s homegrown Southern genius. Part Thomas Edison and Walt Disney, throw in Ziegfeld and a pinch of Spielberg, 70-year-old Greenberg describes himself as “serial entrepreneur, much more of a visionary than a numbers person, and a good talent scout.”
Raised in the Hillwood area of Nashville, before graduating from the University of Tennessee, where he was an AEPi member, the CEO of The Illuminarium Partners, is a seasoned global entrepreneur and co-founder of Avenues: The World School, Greenberg News Networks, Travel Holdings, WebMD, and former publisher of Esquire magazine.
Over the past three years he has worked on the Illuminarium concept, which was inspired by great worldwide experiences such as teamLab in Tokyo, Atelier des Lumieres in Paris, Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, and Yayoi Kusama’s displays.
He said, “In reality, what we are doing goes well beyond just about every experience in the world due to our cinematic immersion, technology and infrastructure.”
The Illuminarium will inhabit a permanent structure in the Common Ground building on the Eastside Trail, which is home to New Realm Brewing Company and TWO Urban Licks. The immersive venue will transport visitors to places they might only dream of by placing them “inside” the narrative, whether on a safari, at the bottom of the ocean, in the celestial universe, on top of the world’s highest peaks, surrounded by a once-in-a-lifetime musical performance, visual art exhibition, or being with iconic personalities. It will be produced by storytellers, cinematographers, visual effects specialists and creative technologists. Illuminarium combines techniques used in traditional motion picture production and virtual reality that allows visitors to experience filmed content (like a safari) and authentic, re-created worlds (think Mars) all without wearable hardware –virtual reality without glasses.
Visitors will be completely surrounded by a massive 360-by-360-foot canvas, 350 feet long, over 20 feet in height, with state-of-the-art laser projection, rich spatial audio (where natural and musical scores change with the listener’s location), in- floor trembling like an elephant stampede, scent and exciting interactive technologies in 30,000 square feet. Committed to Atlanta as home base, the research and development lab is based here too.
Greenberg refers to “democratizing the world’s most amazing experiences,” questioning just how many people can afford a $20,000 safari. Then consider the educational value for disparate cultures and incomes. School field trips will begin at kindergarten age.
All this was started prior to COVID, but now reconsider how views of travel may be forever changed. Greenberg furthers, “It’s a place unlike any other in town. Each major spectacle will run for approximately six months.” WILD: A Safari Experience will run until early 2022, and then SPACEWALK will take over, he said. “Our focus is to do something that takes your breath away. People are going to come not just from Atlanta, but from all over the Southeast.”
A projected 5,000 ticket holders can come through in one day. Tickets are $30 to $40 and may have additional discounts.
Additionally, it will be a destination venue for dining, corporate and private events. Greenberg said, “In general, we can accommodate 500 to 750 in a reception mode and 250 to 400 seated. Many other variations [are available], depending on whether someone wants the event to include our outdoor patio.”
The restaurant will be open to the public. There are also plans for kosher caterer options for private events. A craft shop will sell art from around the globe. About 20 percent of the investors are Georgians, a Who’s Who list of predominantly Jewish philanthropists and businesspeople. As of mid-April, $60 million has been raised worldwide.
Put in perspective, Greenberg is amassing one of the best tourist real estate in the world. Atlanta may be first, but plans for Las Vegas have been finalized, expect Miami next with possibilities of Chicago, Mexico, Spain, Australia, Dubai and others, up to 50 locations falling in line.
It’s easy to address Greenberg in mega-watt professional circles, but “most of my grandchildren call me ‘Grandpa.’ But my 2-year-old granddaughter calls me ‘Big Al.’”
Visit www.Illuminarium.com to register for advance tickets.