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The Northwest Film Center and the Portland Art Museum
Selected as sole U.S. partner for Venice Biennale’s
Venice VR Expanded 2020

September 2-12, 2020, at the Portland Art Museum
PORTLAND, Oregon—The Northwest Film Center and Portland Art Museum in Oregon have been announced as the exclusive U.S. partner for the Virtual Reality (VR) arm of the Venice Biennale through its Venice VR Expanded 2020 programming. 

For the first time in its 125-year history, La Biennale di Venezia (the Venice Biennale) is offering its programming both online and at select venues around the globe, responding creatively to the travel and in-person gathering challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. Venice VR Expanded is the official creative VR competition within the frame of the Venice International Film Festival (September 2–12, 2020). This year, since many audiences will not be able to come to Venice for COVID-19 related reasons, Venice will come to them. 

Venice VR Expanded 2020, the creative Virtual Reality competition of the 77th Venice International Film Festival, will take place September 2–12, offering access to 39 immersive VR projects from 24 countries through virtual reality headsets in satellite installations, including the Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center in Portland, Oregon. Portland will be joined in this satellite network by prestigious galleries, museums, institutions and VR leaders in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Geneva, Hangzhhou, Modena, Montreal, Moscow, Paris, Taipei, and Venice Mestre.

In Portland, the Venice VR Expanded 2020 experience will take place in the Fields Ballroom in the Portland Art Museum’s Mark Building. Participants will reserve one-hour increments and select from 39 different virtual-reality experiences featuring the best animated, non-fiction, and creative storytelling work from around the globe. The Ballroom will safely accommodate 14 participants per hour within social distancing rules, and all gear will be thoroughly sanitized between each visitor experience using the latest technology, Clean Box. Tickets go on sale at the Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center websites the week of August 17.

“We are so honored to have been selected as the only U.S. venue for the Venice Biennale’s newest and most innovative exhibition, Venice VR Expanded. It is a perfect fit with the Museum and Film Center’s recent Cinema Unbound programming and our ongoing dedication to finding new ways of seeing, accessing and experiencing art,” says Amy Dotson, Director of the Northwest Film Center and PAM’s Curator of Film & New Media. “VR is an immersive experience like no other that allows audiences to be more engaged, more empathetic, and travel to places real and imagined—all qualities that are especially valuable at this moment of great change in our community and our world.”

The selection of the Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center as the sole U.S. venue for Venice VR Expanded 2020 came about thanks to previous collaboration between the Film Center’s director and Michel Reilhac, the founder and head of the Venice Biennale’s virtual-reality competition, who was honored earlier this year with the Northwest Film Center’s 2020 Cinema Unbound Award. 

Amy Dotson, who joined the Portland Art Museum in September 2019, has worked frequently with Reilhac as leader for the Venice Biennale’s College Cinema and Virtual Reality programs. 

“Amy and I have been collaborating on projects for years, and her vision is far-reaching,” said Michel Reilhac, Curator of Immersive Media Content and Experiences for the Venice Biennale VR Competition. “As soon as I shared with her our idea for bringing Venice VR Expanded to Portland, she immediately said, “We are in!” 

Virtual reality explained

Virtual reality (VR) as an art form promotes curiosity and wonder, allowing others to share their worlds and audiences to walk in those worlds to explore. VR Storytelling has gone from the realm of science fiction to a cutting-edge way to see and experience art. Where film manipulates time, VR as a medium manipulates space, allowing viewers who don the headsets the ability to enter a realistic or artistically rendered 360 degree experience through visuals and soundscapes. You don’t just see the work, you are inside of it. 

A safe VR experience 

The Ballroom will safely accommodate fourteen participants per hour within social distancing rules and all gear will be thoroughly sanitized by the latest technology, Clean Box. Clean Box sanitizes and eradicates up to 99.9 percent of bacteria, virus and fungi in 1 minute, and all participants will receive a fully cleaned headset. For more information, visit www.cleanboxtech.com.

How to participate in Venice VR Expanded 2020 

Tickets will be available for purchase online at the Portland Art Museum and Film Center websites the week of August 17 and will cost $25 each. Portland Art Museum members and Northwest Film Center Silver Screen members receive a $5 discount. All selected VR content will be accessible to viewers 14+.

In Portland, the Venice VR Expanded 2020 experience will take place in the Fields Ballroom in the Mark Building of the Portland Art Museum. Participants will reserve time in one-hour increments and can select from 39 different experiences of varying lengths. Featuring the very best animated, non-fiction, and creative storytelling work from around the globe from new voices and leaders in the immersive storytelling space, Venice VR Expanded in Portland will give audiences a chance to select from PAMcurated hour-long selections. An online catalog will be available prior to the event, and participants are encouraged to make their selections beforehand. The experiences will be delivered on the HTC Vive, Oculus Go and Oculus Riff headsets.

The Museum and Film Center have partnered with Joshua Alan Young and his team at Reflective Brands as consultants. Reflective Brands is a Portland-based immersive studio specializing in custom development for all things related to virtual and augmented reality. Additional support from HTC-Vive and Clean Box technologies have also been provided. 

For more information and updates about the Venice VR Expanded experience in Portland, keep an eye on portlandartmuseum.org/venice-vr-expanded. Learn more about Venice VR Expanded at labiennale.org/en/cinema/2020/venice-vr-expanded.

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About the Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center

The seventh oldest museum in the United States, the Portland Art Museum is internationally recognized for its permanent collection and ambitious special exhibitions drawn from the Museum’s holdings and the world’s finest public and private collections. The Museum’s collection of more than 50,000 objects, displayed in 112,000 square feet of galleries, reflects the history of art from ancient times to today. The collection is distinguished for its holdings of arts of the native peoples of North America, English silver, and the graphic arts. An active collecting institution dedicated to preserving great art for the enrichment of future generations, the Museum devotes 90 percent of its galleries to its permanent collection.

The Museum’s campus of landmark buildings, a cornerstone of Portland’s cultural district, includes the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art, the Gilkey Center for Graphic Arts, the Schnitzer Center for Northwest Art, the Northwest Film Center, and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Center for Native American Art. With a membership of more than 22,000 households and serving more than 350,000 visitors annually, the Museum is a premier venue for education in the visual arts. For information on exhibitions and programs, call 503-226-2811 or visit portlandartmuseum.org.

Established in 1971, the Northwest Film Center is an extension of the Museum and a year-round organization where artists and audiences explore our region and the world through cinema and cinematic storytelling in all its forms. For more information, visit nwfilm.org.

Shared knowledge around art and film enriches our communities and helps all thrive and engage in a global society. Equity, diversity, and access to art, film, and education are critical to the ongoing work of the Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center. Learn more about the Museum and Film Center’s commitment to equity at portlandartmuseum.org/equity.

The Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center welcome all visitors and affirm their commitment to making their programs and collections accessible to everyone. The Museum and Film Center offer a variety of programs and services to ensure a quality experience and a safe, inclusive environment for every member of our diverse community. Learn more at portlandartmuseum.org/access.

The Museum and Film Center are pleased to offer accommodations to ensure that our programs are accessible and inclusive. Please email a request to access@pam.org two to three weeks in advance, or call 503-226-2811.



The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.