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Multicolored lights, soundscapes take visitors 'under the sea' at Buffalo Botanical Gardens

Multicolored lights will bathe the Botanical Gardens' three Victorian glass domes and connecting greenhouses for the next three weeks.

But that's only one of the senses.  The eighth annual "Lumagination" also brings together music, sound effects, theatrical design and interactive displays to the indoor nature attraction's sedate environment for this year's theme, "Under the sea."

The exhibit wastes no time making waves as visitors are immediately greeted by a plastic inflatable shark's mouth in the middle of the Palm Dome. Images of fish are projected above, as shards of light dance on the glass surface and among the plants.

Photo Gallery: Lumagination transforms the Botanical Gardens

"It's a whimsical piece, and people are going to love it," said Philip Colarusso, lighting designer of Luminated Landscapes, who created the show for a fourth year.

"You can channel your inner fish," added marketing director Erin Grajek.

The view from outside the Buffalo Botanical Gardens during the eighth annual Lumagination exhibit. Lumagination opens to the public on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 and runs through Feb. 24 on specific dates. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Colarusso sees this year's show as the first of a four-year concept that would be followed by wind, earth and fire.

He was particularly drawn to water and the sea.

"The earth is 80 percent water, we're 80 percent water, and water carries the emotions, and it cleanses humanity of negative energy," Colarusso said.

Light and objects are used to conjure up creatures beneath the sea, including jelly fish, plankton, a turtle, electric eels and schools of fish. There's also an actual aquarium.

Not to be missed is Charlotte, the mantis shrimp and a lit-up treasure chest. They're produced, along with an original score and other surprises by students from the University at Buffalo Department of Theatre and Dance's Design and Technology Program.

The musical soundscapes can be soothing in one room, and more dramatic in others as strollers take in the rare, exotic, and varied plant species throughout the building.

Lumagination tranforms the Botanical Gardens with light. The theme this year is "Under the Sea" which gives visitors the feeling that they are on the ocean floor. Many "jellyfish" made from Japanese lanterns hang from the ceiling in one of the greenhouses. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

There are also interactive motion activities for children.

"We had nearly 15,000 people show up last year, and we hope more people come this year and experience the Botanical Gardens in a totally different way," said David Swarts, the Botanical Gardens' president and chief executive officer.

The vivid shades of purple, yellow, blue, green and other colors swirling about stand in contrast to the often gloomy weather outside. So does the greenhouse temperatures.

"This gives us an opportunity to present something unique and different in this community in the cold winter months," Swarts said. "You can come in here and it's warm and tropical."

"Lumagination" opens Saturday and runs through Feb. 24. For more information on days and times, go to

Dramatic lighting highlights cacti at the Buffalo Botanical Gardens during Lumagination, an exhibit that tranforms the facility with light. Lumagination is open beginning at 6 p.m. on Jan. 27-28 and Feb. 1-3, 7-11 and 14-24. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

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