On the outskirts of Leipzig, on an otherwise nondescript street dealerships and various other stands a 19th century gasometer. Leipzig a city with lots offer, so you’d be forgiven for walking past in search of more interesting sights.
To walk past would be to miss out. This heritage structure, no longer needed for its original purpose, has adopted a new role. First a gasometer, today a panometer. The rough brick exterior doesn’t give much away, but stepping into the panometer can take you into another world.
The term ‘Panometer’ emerged from the marriage of two words: Gasometer and panorama. The panorama bit refers to the large scale exhibitions you’ll find within.
Since 2003, artist Yadegar Asisi has been creating 360 degree panoramas on a vast scale and exhibiting them in converted gasometers across Germany and Austria. The Leipzig Panometer is home to the world’s largest 360° panoramas and accompanying exhibitions.
The theme of the panorama on display in Leipzig: Titanic. The loss of the Titanic is a human tragedy that has intrigued and fascinated for generations. I was curious as to how this would be interpreted and presented on such a vast scale.
Entry into the panorama is via an accompanying multi media exhibition. The exhibition doesn’t just dive in (pardon the pun!) to the 1912 sinking of the Titanic. With effective lighting and intriguing images, the viewer is challenged to think about the way we view development. The double-edged sword of technological advance. How far should we push the boundaries?
One of the highlights of the exhibition is the 23m tall reconstruction of the Titanic’s bow. You come upon this having wandered past plans for the titanic recreated on a vast scale. It’s a good opener for what is about to come.
The main event of the exhibition: the awe-inspiring, circular masterpiece showcasing the wreck of the Titanic, 4000m down on the bed of the Atlantic
The panorama covers 3,500 square meters and can be viewed from ground level or at various heights using the 15m high viewing tower in the centre of the installation. Lighting and sound effects are used to enhance the experience, and it works beautifully.
The wreck emerges from almost complete darkness, the reveal accompanied by a haunting soundtrack.
Within the Panorama you’ll find quotes and statements that show just how much faith the inventors and passengers had in the ship. Starkly presented in black and white, the statements create quite a juxtaposition alongside the vast image of the wreck.
It isn’t just the exhibition within the Panometer that is impressive.
The adjacent, smaller structure has been reincarnated as an open air space for cultural and sporting events. The space in between, glassed over to create an attractive atrium, houses the cafe and entrance foyer.
It’s an intriguing reinvention of an industrial relic.
Following the exhibition, exit is via the pleasant cafe. If visiting in the cooler months you might well need a hot drink to warm up; this place wasn’t designed with comfort in mind and it gets pretty chilly. The cafe makes for a nice place to warm up and take the weight off. Reasonably priced, too.
For up to date information about the Panometer and current exhibitions, visit the official website here.
The Titanic panorama has now ended, the current exhibition in June 2023 is New York 9/11