Unless you lived under a rock, chances are you saw a Starry Night reproduction somewhere. Vincent Van Gogh, the Dutch Post-Impressionist, is everywhere. He’s the star of five – FIVE! – Competing immersive exhibitions currently touring the United States. Entertainment Hub, the company behind the show, which opened in Seattle on October 20, is hosting Van Gogh shows concurrently in nine other US cities (including New York, Boston, Miami, and Houston).
It’s art for the masses, and I don’t mean that badly. Any means of getting people excited about art is a good thing. This art snob spent almost two hours indoors and enjoyed the show more than expected.
Seattle’s Van Gogh show was plagued by problems before it even opened and received a warning from the Better Business Bureau. Tickets have been on sale since spring to promote a “secret place” yet to be announced, but the planned opening date in September came and went without a look, frustrating many ticket holders.
Many delays and complaints to the BBB and the Washington Attorney General later, “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” is finally open in Seattle.
“It just took us a little longer to find the right venue and open it,” said John Zaller, Executive Producer of Entertainment Hub. “We are excited to be here and bring art and culture to Sodo.”
“Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” is billed as a digital 360-degree art experience. The crown jewel of this exhibition is an 8,000 square meter room in the middle of the room with two-story projections. A video runs on a 35-minute loop, piecing together and rolling elements from more than 300 of Van Gogh’s drawings, sketches, and paintings to create a custom soundtrack. With this dynamic installation projected from floor to ceiling, you can stand in the middle of the room and surround yourself on all four sides.
See life-size canvas reproductions of Van Gogh’s paintings in the surrounding galleries. (The actual “Starry Night”? It’s surprisingly small, only 2½ by 3 feet.) There is also a five-foot-tall molded foam bust of the artist onto which his self-portraits are projected. In another video installation, you see a shaped vase onto which various flower arrangements are projected. Van Gogh painted the same vase over and over – this guy was low on money.
In the art studio, visitors can create their own Van Gogh-inspired art. You can choose a Van Gogh coloring sheet or start over on a blank sheet of paper. Take a picture of your masterpiece and it will be projected on the wall.
The show ends with an optional VR experience, which is an additional $ 5 unless you’ve purchased VIP tickets. (The headphones are wiped between users.) I sat in the swivel seat for a 10-minute drive, starting in Van Gogh’s famous bedroom in Arles, then through the French countryside to see what inspired his famous paintings. It’s worth the $ 5, but in the end I felt a little sick. VR is not for young children or people who are prone to get seasick. Under no circumstances should you try to get up.
The show takes place in a 44,000-square-foot warehouse in Sodo, one block south of T-Mobile Park. I thought I took the wrong turn until I saw the exterior of the building, which was painted a bright blue to make it stand out. Entertainment Hub signed the lease in September and invested nearly $ 2 million to remodel this simple warehouse. His first Van Gogh show opened in a cathedral in Italy in 2018.
If you are thinking of going there, do the following: go on a weekday morning when it is not crowded and the tickets are cheaper. The show lasts about six months so wait for the initial hubbub to subside. Timed ticketing helps control the crowd, but that’s still 100 to 125 people who can enter the exhibition every half hour.
This show is no substitute for seeing the real deals in person when you want to catch a flight to the Museum of Modern Art in New York or the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The real life images are a bit anti-climactic because they are so small. Here they are enlarged, moving, swirling, an oversized sensory experience that more closely matches our modern attention span.
Why does the sudden deluge of Van Gogh show? Zaller cited the artist’s use of color and the energy of his brushstrokes, which gives the paintings a good translation into digital projection. It doesn’t hurt that Van Gogh’s works are all in the public domain, so there aren’t any copyrights to argue with.
Ironically, Van Gogh only sold one painting in his life. He was penniless. He probably would have loved this show and loved to get a part of it.
When you go
“Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience”
Where: 1750 Occidental Ave. S. in Sodo, one block south of T-Mobile Park
When: Tickets are currently available online through January 30th, although there is no confirmed end date and the show will likely run for six months. Season tickets are available every half hour on weekdays except Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas.
Tickets: Available at fieberup.com/m/96395. Prices start at $ 41 for adults and $ 24.90 for children. Children under 4 years are free. The prices are higher for evening, weekend and VIP tickets. The VR experience, which you can purchase on-site, is $ 5 extra for standard access ticket holders.
COVID-19 requirements: Anyone 12 years or older must provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours. Masks are compulsory.
More info: vangoghexpo.com/seattle
is the mother of two boys and is a freelance writer and photographer. She blogs on photoj.net.