Bourbaki Panorama


My friend Ken Hollings, author of Welcome to Mars, recently visited the Bourbaki Panorama in Luzern, Switzerland. Panoramas are something like an analog predecessor to iMax and virtual reality. Painted in 1881, the 1,000 square meter Bourbaki Panorama painting was later augmented with mannequins and props to enhance the immersion experience. Ken writes:

I recently returned from a brief lecture tour of Switzerland, during the course of which I was taken to the Bourbaki Panorama while in Lucerne: an amazing reconstruction of the French army's demoralized retreat across the Swiss border after being defeated and demobilized by the Germans in 1871 – Bourbaki is the name of the French army's commander who made an unsuccessful attempt to commit suicide rather than live with the shame – the Panorama is located at the top of large purpose-built roundhouse near the lake and features dozens of wax figures set against a painted backdrop… there aren't a lot of pix of it on the web, and you're not allowed to take photographs while you're in there, but this attached one (click image to enlarge) gives you a good idea of how it's put together. The use of telegraph wires and train tracks, cattle cars etc to suggest shifts in distance and dimension is particularly skillful.

For more on the Bourbaki Panorama, see this 2003 article in VRMag by Michelle Bienias: 19th Century Bourbaki Panorama

UPDATE: For those in the U.S. seeking a more local variant on the Panorama, BB pal Jason Weisberger points us to the Gettysburg Cyclorama, completed in 1884.