A vast empty basement space at Marble Arch opens today, filled with cathedral-sized 360-degree animated artworks. This is Frameless, a new way of showing off art that aims to entertain more than to educate, but may occasionally trigger an interest in the old master paintings they have permission to reproduce.

It’s quite impressive as an experience though.

Entry is through a shop that doesn’t look like much is going on, but then down two sets of glittery space-age effect escalators and along a glowing corridor takes you to the video experience.

There are four rooms, each themed, and you wander between them taking in as much or little as you want. The video loops, and it takes about 20 minutes for each room to return to the point where you walked in. Along with the videos, suitable music adds atmosphere — from delicate tunes to ear thumbing noise for others.

Walk into a room, and every surface is animated. The floors, ceiling, walls – you feel like you’ve stepped into a vast artificial reality world without needing a heavy headset.

Some of the scenes are interactive – such as the impressionist paintings that respond to you walking across the floor to disturb the layer of painted “leaves” that then scatter to flow up the walls and build up the painting. Standing in the turbulent ocean from Rembrandt van Rij’s Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee is good enough that it can almost induce a bit of sea sickness. Joseph Wright’s Vesuvius in Eruption is accompanied musically a bit stereotypically by Night on Bare Mountain.

Two rooms are not entirely empty – one has mirrors around the edges for those Instagram friendly selfies. The other, the abstract room has been filled with a maze of thin gauze used as video screens which were surprisingly effective with some of the art being projected into all sorts of different angles. Mondrian and Kandinsky worked exceptionally well in here.

They’ve animated a good number of old masters, and although there’s a list outside the room telling you what paintings are shown, there’s nothing inside the room or on the videos to say you are watching Monet etc. That’s probably because it’s all experience and not education, but I don’t think a splash of headline for a few seconds would have been that offputting.

The venue could do with a lot more seating. Seats inside the huge rooms would detract from the effect, and while there’s a little bit of seating in the corridor space between the rooms, and of course, there’s a cafe, but there’s not much else. Considering that a visit, in theory, could last an hour and a half if you wanted to take in every single animated painting, that’s a lot of standing.

That said, it’s undeniably a lot of fun to visit and stand around these huge rooms, immersed in the paintings as they come to life.

A visit to Frameless is not unlike stepping inside Disney’s Fantasia.

Tickets to visit Frameless need to be booked in advance from here.

Standard timed entry tickets start from £25 for adults and £15 for children (5-17) during weekdays, and a bit more for evenings or weekends. There are also premium ticket options.

The address is officially 6 Marble Arch, although it’s easier to find if you look for the entrance on the main Edgware Road.


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  1. Chris Rogers says:

    So a bit of googling reveals that this is a new useage of the space that was supposed to be a cinema, the new development’s replacement for the old Odeon Marble Arch. Westminster approved it after Odeon withdrew, citing covid losses and competition. Rather ironic given the OMA was the biggest screen in Britain at the time of closure.

    I know which I’d rather pay £25 for. Or nothing in the National Gallery or Tate.

  2. JohnC says:

    No concessions for seniors? So £50 at least for a couple of OAPs. I think we will have to give it a miss.

  3. Elaine oskoui says:

    I agree with the last message about no concessions for seniors so will also give it a miss!

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