Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP via Getty Images

How much would you pay for "a sleek, if pleasantly confusing, package of moods" or "a confusing tangle of disjointed installations" or even "the total erosion of meaning itself"? The answer, according to the current market-clearing price, seems to be about $35.

Why it matters: Investors are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into ticketed experiences — immersive, interactive museum-like spaces that don't have the d0-not-touch stuffiness of traditional museums.

Driving the news: Meow Wolf, a VC-funded art collective (now that's a phrase you wouldn't have heard 10 years ago) this week opened its biggest installation yet, in Denver. Clocking in at 90,000 square feet, it cost $100 million — the cost of a large studio movie, or an early Picasso.

  • Immersive Van Gogh experiences now span the world, with just one operator, Lighthouse Immersive, claiming to have sold 3.2 million tickets.
  • Superblue and Fotografiska, for-profit museums with VC funding and serious art-world credibility, are expanding across the country and the world. Their profits, if any, come not from selling works but from selling tickets.
  • The biggest immersive experience of all, James Turrell's Roden Crater in Arizona, might actually open to the public in the next few years, thanks in large part to the generosity of Kanye West.

Nonprofit museums are paying attention. The Indianapolis Museum of Art, after rebranding as Newfields, now devotes an entire floor to immersive experiences; it's currently exhibiting a Van Gogh show.

  • In Los Angeles, the Museum of Contemporary Art has opened a nine-month immersive exhibition of Swiss video artist Pipilotti Rist, who drew massive crowds to an earlier show at the New Museum in New York.
  • The Paula Cooper gallery sold Christian Marclay's iconic installation "The Clock" — an immersive experience avant la lettre — almost entirely to museums.

The big picture: "The experience economy" is a phrase coined by management professors Joseph Pine and James Gilmore in 1998. Their thesis was that "businesses must deliberately design engaging experiences that command a fee."

  • Thus were born "instagram museums" like the Color Factory or the Museum of Ice Cream. While they feel rather 2018, they haven't gone away entirely. Still, they're waning. "Having a factory to produce shared photos, I think that’s coming to an end," says Stewart Alsop, a board member and early investor in Meow Wolf.
  • What's new is the way in which the pandemic has curtailed a lot of travel, and has increased demand for anything that can be enjoyed, with friends, while wearing a mask.
  • By the numbers: The unauthorized traveling exhibition “Banksy: Genius or Vandal?” has reportedly sold 3 million tickets; at its current incarnation in New York, they cost $29.50 each.

The bottom line: Immersive art, at its best, can be revelatory. At its worst, it can feel like a cynical and disheartening attempt to hoover up the maximum amount of cash for the lowest possible outlay.

  • As L.A. Times art critic Christopher Knight writes, "Actual art by a gifted artist is better than reproductions of art sold by a corporation any day — especially at one-third the price."

Go deeper

Tony Fitzpatrick's last museum show ever

Scrub Jay is a drawing and collage by Tony Fitzpatrick pictured (right). Photo by Ray Vegter. Collage courtesy of Tony Fitzpatrick.

This Saturday artist Tony Fitzpatrick opens "Jesus of Western Avenue," his last-museum show ever.

Why it matters: Fitzpatrick is one of Chicago's most celebrated visual artists, not to mention an actor, poet and writer. His decision has also sparked big questions about the role of art and museums.

Biden rejects Trump's latest executive privilege claims

Photo: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Monday rejected two more of former President Trump's claims of executive privilege over documents that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot requested, CNN first reported.

Why it matters: Trump's legal team is seeking to block some of the panel's requests for records by invoking executive privilege, which can allow presidents and their aides to sidestep congressional scrutiny. The Biden administration has maintained that it will evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

Amazon warehouse workers in New York file petition to hold unionization vote

Amazon workers and their supporters rally outside the National Labor Relations Board's regional office in Brooklyn, New York City, after filing a petition requesting an election to form a union. Photo: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon warehouse workers in New York City filed a petition on Monday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a vote on unionization.

Why it matters: The move comes six months after an organizing effort was defeated at Amazon's distribution center in Alabama.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!