Prince of the Mag Mile


“Prince: the Immersive Experience” begins with purple light through stained glass. Guests in groups of ten to 15 are led through double doors to a replica of the “When Doves Cry” music video set: portraits hung on purple walls, bouquets scattered on the floor, and a white claw-foot tub to pose behind. The only thing missing is Prince himself.

Open to general admission as of June 9, the 20,000-square-foot exhibition about the deceased Minneapolis pop star Prince occupies prime real estate on the Mag Mile. Tickets start at $ 39.50 each for approximately an hour of touring through photo backdrop installations, infographics on Prince’s life and work, and a few personal artifacts. It’s a sensual if sometimes superficial introduction to the legendary musician.

The exhibit is the brainchild of Superflyan “experience company” that brought tourist attractions “The Friends Experience” and “The Office Experience” to the same Michigan Avenue location in which you can now find bigger-than-life-size images of Prince. Once the company decided to focus on music for their next endeavor, “the shortlist was easy,” Superfly COO Richard Gay told me. “Who are the stars that are multidimensional? You wanna talk about the gear, you wanna talk about the talent, you wanna talk about standing for something like social justice and artists’ rights? ” Gay, a Chicago native, reinforced his enthusiasm by reminiscing about seeing Purple Rain in theaters as a teen and watching Prince’s famous Super Bowl XLI halftime show with his son. Superfly soon secured full collaboration of The Prince Estate, now representing three of Prince’s siblings and music management company Primary Wave, and Paisley Parkthe artist’s home and studio turned neo-Graceland in the Minneapolis suburbs.

An installation from the exhibition mimics the exterior of Minneapolis club First Avenue, where Prince first performed. Credit: Superfly and Alive Coverage

The most immersive parts of the experience are the sets that allow visitors to pose within the visual worlds of Prince, chiefly from his cultural peak in the mid-80s and early 90s. You can recreate the Purple Rain cover and straddle a hulking purple motorcycle, artfully arranged at an angle away from a dimly lit alleyway door. The rest of the set is filled with references, like a graffiti message signed by “Nikki,” a faux storefront for Erotic Cities Electronics, and a wall mimicking the silver star exterior of the famed Minneapolis club First Avenue. Another room echoes the Caligulan vibe of 1991’s Diamonds and Pearls, including a tongue-like pink leather chair culled from the set of the title track’s music video. Murals of performance photos and Prince quotes, some rendered in his charming proto-leet speak, provide additional fodder for posing throughout the exhibit.


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