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Arte Museum looks to draw a million annual visitors to Santa Monica Place

Al Urbanski
Santa Monica is about to take its famous beach indoors.

Santa Monica Place is betting that an immersive media gallery will draw lots more traffic than its former movie theater did.

Macerich, which owns and operates the half-million-sq.-ft. open-air mall in California, will put Arte Museum in the 48, vacated by ArcLight Cinemas and expects it to draw a million or more tourists a year.

Arte Museum, produced by the Korean digital design company d’strict, uses visuals, sounds, and fragrances to present settings such as beaches, gardens, jungles, and safaris indoors. The company’s premier location on Jeju Island in South Korea reports having attracted four million guests since it opened in 2020.

Santa Monica Place caters to a trade area of more than a million residents with average household incomes of more than $150,000. Its tenants include Coach, Free People, Hugo Boss, Johnny Was, Louis Vuitton, Nordstrom, True Food Kitchen, and The Curious Palate.

“Arte Museum provides a terrific example of how Macerich consistently works to evolve the retail, dining, and entertainment offerings in each of our markets to match consumer preferences,” said Cory Scott, Macerich’s executive VP of asset management. “This represents the first executed lease in our planned repurposing of the former Bloomingdale’s box, and we look forward to announcing details on the other uses--including high-end fitness.”

Arte Museum created what’s billed as the world’s first 4D art park—Live Park in Ilsan, Korea—that presents holograms, mega-sized media façade walls, a 360-degree interactive theater, and kinetic sculpture.

 D’strict has also presented public art projects such as “Wave” at K-Pop Square in Seoul and “Waterfall-NYC” and “Whale #2” in New York’s Times Square.

The company has plans to open another Arte Museum in Las Vegas this year.

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