Blossoms of Light, by the Denver Botanic Gardens uses Panasonic Projectors to Illuminate Winter Floras

5 min read

Client: Denver Botanic Gardens
Location: Denver, CO, USA
Products Supplied:

The Denver Botanic Gardens wanted to integrate more of their grounds, by adding new interactive and engaging elements that would enhance their signature Blossoms of Light display for the 2018/2019 winter season.

Two Panasonic PT- RZ12KU 3-Chip DLP™ projectors were installed outside in 15-foot enclosures to produce projection mapping art on the surface of the Science Pyramid.

Blossoms of Light exceeded in revenue goals and catered to over 145,000 attendees. The reliability and image quality of Panasonic projectors amplified the event for an even more memorable experience.


Tasked with creating educational and engaging exhibits throughout the year, the Denver Botanic Gardens collaborated Panasonic to craft a unique and immersive experience for their annual winter event, Blossoms of Light.

The Gardens’ signature event is a true celebration of winter’s beauty, with dazzling and ever-changing displays of light and color which adorn its grounds.  For more than three decades, the Blossoms of Light display has become a long-standing holiday tradition for thousands of visitors. Guests are pictured listening to whistling carolers, and strolling through the narrow pathways to observe the frosted dormant gardens.

The Denver Botanic Gardens is a 24-acre public botanical garden that contains a conservatory, a variety of themed gardens and a sunken amphitheater. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, it is widely recognized as one the top botanical gardens in the country. The Gardens not only emphasize entertainment, but also fosters collaboration and education through its offered programs. With the mission of connecting human beings with nature, the Gardens creates a community for those who rejoice nature’s beauty.

In an effort to integrate more dynamic content to the Gardens fall and winter evening events, technical project manager at the Gardens, Gavin Culbertson, investigated laser projectors.

In test demonstrations with projectors from varied brands, he found Panasonic’s ease in installation and effectiveness in presentation, proved most reliable for the event’s month-long duration. 

“We weren’t in favor of one company versus another, though that quickly changed once we began testing the projectors capabilities. Once we saw what the Panasonic PT-RZ12KU 3-Chip DLP™ SOLID SHINE laser projector was able to deliver, the decision was clear,” recalled Culbertson in the early stages of the project. “The entire team at the Gardens was blown away by the contrast ratio and specs of the SOLID SHINE laser – it was unlike anything we had seen before. Panasonic’s projectors displayed clear, crisp images – far better than any others that we explored.”

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The Denver Botanic Gardens’ 5,258 Sq. ft. 16 sided Science Pyramid was meant to bring a sense of scale, without dominating the elements that surround it. Archdaily via Burkett Design

Looking to maximize use of the Gardens’ landscapes, Gavin and his team turned to the Science Pyramid as their newest feature to integrate into this year’s display.  

Located in the South Central Portion of the Gardens’ York Street location, the Science Pyramid’s illustrative design addresses the role of biomimicry in human lives. The building rests on a square platform, from which it rises ten meters into its pyramidal shape. Its structure is diagonally divided in two diverging halves, which portrays the dynamic spiraling movement that is associated with the earth’s shifting tectonic plates. The building’s exterior contains 16 different sides, each clad with hexagonal shaped ventilated Swisspearl fiber-cement panels that mimic nature’s wax honeycombs.  

“There were various factors that hindered projection: the curvature of the building’s sides and the sloped angularity of its walls made it difficult for light to be reflected in the same manner as the standard projection stream,” Panasonic senior sales engineer, Wayne Koester recalled. “To compensate for the Pyramid’s triangular structure and the event’s long duration, a Panasonic projector with higher brightness was necessary.”

The PTRZ12K 3-Chip DLP™ SOLID SHINE laser projector was best suited - its advanced video processing provided unmatched color reproduction, superior image quality, and dependable 24-hour operation.

Panasonic worked with the integrator, to first measure the size of the surface used in projection and the distance from the building for which the projector would be mounted.  With the throw distance and screen size as inputs, Panasonic then used the simulation calculator to determine the appropriate lens: ET-D75LE10 3-Chip DLP™ zoom lens.

Two Panasonic PT-RZ12KU 3-Chip DLP™ SOLID SHINE laser projectors were installed outside in custom 15-foot air conditioned enclosures. Their light was cast to display projection mapping art onto the two main sides of the Science Pyramid.

Culbertson was tasked with acquiring custom content for the Botanical Gardens: a single scene to wrap around both projection sides of the Science Pyramid. “On behalf of our mission based organization, I wanted to promote the planting of ornamental, yet climate-appropriate perennial plants that will showcase year-round interest”, he described. The result? A dynamic, immersive display of winter landscapes. He coordinated with horticulturalist, Kevin Williams, in capturing frosty agave, falling snowflakes, and heads of grasses blowing in the wind during a snowy day at the Gardens. They also traveled to the Rocky Mountains to capture footage of floating ice sheets at Bear Lake, and a snowy river scene at Moraine Park. Guests could walk around the base of the building to view the wintery scenes, and from a distance, the projected sides form the combined, large-format image.

Culbertson connected his PC to the projectors, and created an in-situ mask of the Science Pyramid projections through a video editor. With this live connection, he was able to mask off the image to perfectly fit the angles of the building. He then created a nested project with this mask over the 4:1 aspect ratio, 8k images of landscapes and winter-interest gardens.

"Using projection mapping, we are able to elevate imagery of the winter forms of plants in the Gardens to the level of a holiday spectacle,” said Williams. “Incorporating this technology into our displays allowed us to connect visitors with our designs and collections, usually only visible during daylight, thus highlighting the beauty of Gardens in the winter. The sharp contrast of soft snowfall on rigid succulents, the lush dancing seed heads of grasses and the intricate structures of trees became as visually striking as any light display - without the physical impact of traditional light installations.”

With the integration of new digital features, Blossoms of Light saw record breaking attendance and sold out for over half its duration. Thousands of visitors now attend for Blossoms of Light alone, setting a new standard for the Gardens’ business model.

“This installation has elevated our entire evening events program, and has shown a significant increase in revenue,” continued Culbertson. “Through this newfound relationship with Panasonic, the door is now open to develop new ideas. The options are endless with the Science Pyramid’s flexible screen and Panasonic’s laser projectors.”

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