Colorado

Visiting the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit in Denver

I’m not really into art. I can appreciate the time and effort and talent (the latter of which I very much lack; I tried to draw a banana the other day and it looked like a lopsided jalapeño) that goes into creating a piece of art. But you’d have to drag me to an art museum, at which point I’d spend a few seconds looking at each item and then get bored.

Then a few months back I read The Travel Architect’s post about their visit to the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit, and I was intrigued by this non-traditional art-viewing experience. I showed it to Pat and he was equally intrigued. Now we just had to decide if we were intrigued enough to pay for it. In the end, we decided we could afford to splurge a little. Sort of. We went to the exhibit, but we went on Sunday evening to avoid paying peak prices for admission.

It wasn’t what I expected. But I did enjoy it.

What I expected was a series of rooms we would walk through, in which there would be stationary projections of Van Gogh’s paintings. What it actually was was two giant rooms with scattered benches from which to view a choreographed series of projections of Van Gogh’s paintings. In the first room, the paintings were simultaneously projected on all four walls and the center of the room contained various mirrored pillars and other shapes, which created some very strange reflections.

Sunflowers
Potato Eaters

The second room lacked mirrors but instead included the floor in the projections.

Windmill on Montmarte
Almond Blossoms
The Red Vineyard at Arles

The paintings would usually appear little bits at a time, sort of like an animation. Sometimes the projections would slide in from one direction like a curtain. Or they would fade from one painting to another in a pattern akin to the transitions between slides in a PowerPoint presentation. Other times, the painting would appear one piece at a time, with one color revealed first, or the outlines appearing and slowly being colored in (as seen in the first two photos below). Often, pieces of the painting would be brought to life; the clouds would move or the blades of grass would wave in the wind.

The Bedroom, with the outline of the furniture appearing first
Irises (appears piece by piece in this and the previous two photos)

Each painting was set to music as well, ranging from lyrical numbers to classical overtures like Pictures at an Exhibition. It was definitely an immersive experience.

It took about 30 minutes for the entire sequence to play through. We watched it twice and felt that was sufficient for us to notice different details and appreciate Van Gogh’s works.

Sower at Sunset
Café Terrace at Night
The Night Café
Pink Peach Trees

On the way out, there was a stationary exhibit with some information about Van Gogh’s life. Like most Americans, all I knew about Van Gogh was Starry Night and that he cut off his ear. It was interesting to learn a little more about him.

Starry Night

If there was one thing I wish we’d done differently, it would be to research Van Gogh before attending the exhibit. It would have been fun to recognize the paintings as they were appearing. Instead, I came home and did some googling and was able to put the pieces together in reverse. Mostly. I labeled all the ones I could above… the unlabeled ones I couldn’t figure out. If anyone recognizes any of them, please let me know.

I realize an immersive exhibit isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s certainly a nontraditional way to view art. But I really enjoyed it and I came away able to recognize more of Van Gogh’s works.

Would I gogh to another immersive art exhibit in the future?

Absolutely!

(You didn’t think I’d make it through the whole post without at least one Van Gogh pun, did you?)


The Important Stuff:

  • Location: Immersive Van Gogh is being shown in twenty US cities (see the list here)
  • When: the end date varies by location; in Denver, tickets are being sold through the end of May 2022
  • Cost: this also varies by city; in Denver, tickets start at $35 per person (for off-peak hours) and increase to over $100 per person (peak pricing, including add-ons and additional experiences)
  • Other: although Omicron was going strong at the time, we felt safe attending this exhibit. Masks were required (and wearing them was actually being enforced) and benches were spaced out. We wore N95s and kept our distance from other parties, and it all worked out well

41 thoughts on “Visiting the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit in Denver”

  1. I’m no artist (when we play that drawing game – Pictionary – nobody wants to be in my team 😌) … but I do appreciate it when someone has that talent. The sunflowers are really pretty and so are many of the other ones – I think to combine it with music is a clever idea … definitely a unique art exhibition.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This looks like a neat way to experience Van Gogh’s work… definitely brings them to life in a way that hanging them on the wall in a gallery just can’t do. There’s a similar exhibition (Van Gogh Alive) on in Edinburgh at the moment, but at £23 a ticket I feel it’s on the steep side. Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, we were hesitant of the cost as well. I think we ended up paying $34 each, which I wasn’t thrilled about. I did enjoy the experience, but at that cost I won’t be automatically buying tickets to every immersive experience I come across.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It looks really cool! I won’t get to it so I appreciate the thorough post and all the photos. I like art museums but after a couple of hours I am ready to move on. This is certainly more exciting! I just saw a TV commercial for a Frida Kahlo Immersive Experience.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. How amazing! I have heard of exhibits like this a lot more recently and I am very intrigued, I am sure I would love them! I think there is one in Paris so if I go there one weekend I’ll try to check it out! Thank you for sharing your experience! Out of all the paintings you saw, which one do you think you liked the most?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ooh that’s a really good question. I’m not sure one particular painting stands out to me over the others. But I’d say in general I enjoyed the outdoor/nature scenes with bright colors.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey, Diana! Thanks for the shout out and link! I think I remember you saying it was in Denver and you might go. I’m glad you enjoyed it. We have similar feelings about art museums, and I think our takeaways about this are similar as well. It’s interesting to see how the exhibit varies based on the location. Yours had many more mirrored pillars in the first room than the Minneapolis exhibit did.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have never attended an interactive exhibit like this one, either, but it sounds and looks really intriguing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and impressions, Diana. Now I need to decide if I want to make the drive to Denver to see this.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I saw the van Gogh exhibition in Paris in 2019, and I enjoyed it. I saw it at the Atelier des Lumières, which is a place known for displaying animated art like that: I also saw the Klimt exhibition prior to that. It surprises me just how quickly this movement has taken off in the past few years, although I don’t agree with how over-priced it’s become (the one I went to cost perhaps $15). But it’s a fun, little venue to check out– perfect to go with friends, family, your date, or even by yourself!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, it’s very expensive. We almost didn’t go because of that. They’re bringing a new immersive exhibit to Denver now and ticket prices are even slightly higher… I guess because it’s been so popular.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I saw this screening in Toronto, or a similar show on Van Gogh, in the middle of the pandemic and before the vaccines, scary, I was happy to see the paintings I already knew. Now, last summer I went to Amsterdam and saw the real works again, it is certainly not the same and I think I prefer the latter experience.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. There’s one by us, but we haven’t gone yet. It seems very popular because they keep extending the exhibit. It’s nice that you can sit and watch the show, I always get tired in museums, but I don’t think I’d get so tired sitting down and having the artwork come to me haha

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think they extended ours too, and now they’re bringing in a second immersive exhibit… so I guess I’m not the only one who enjoyed it. It was definitely nice to just sit and watch everything.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This must be one of those rare times when Canada gets the exhibit before the USA. Perhaps they wanted to fine tune the exhibit by showing it up here first? I feel the same way about art galleries – boring. However many years ago my wife and I had a weekend to ourselves in Montreal. They had some of the modern art but we passed through that quickly. We then entered a room with old classical art. I was smitten. The paintings were huge and the tallent that created them was incredible. I found I could just sit and stand for a long time and look at them. There was so much to see in each painting that I constantly saw more details in the image. On our way out I once again passed by some modern art. I barely gave it a glance.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sounds like a fun experience! I agree, it’s a lot easier to look at them for a period of time and notice things when the artwork is so huge. The movement in this exhibit and the music also helped keep my interest too.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I read that post too and it intrigued me, and now your’s is making me want to visit one too. I saw that there is a Sistene Chapel exhibit in Calgary, maybe I’ll take your lead and check it out! Maggie

    Liked by 2 people

  12. “I tried to draw a banana the other day and it looked like a lopsided jalapeño.” You just have to phrase it differently. Refer to it as Diana’s abstract re-interpretation of the banana – a bold statement about what this yellow fruit symbolizes in the current cultural climate. And so on… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am sad I missed it when it was here. Too much Covid around and too few tickets. Monet is the next one and I hope to be able to go to that one. I love Monet. Hope it will not take to much Monet for a ticket. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hahah, the pun is much appreciated. I hope you’re able to see Monet. The next one coming here is Frida Kahlo. I haven’t yet decided whether I’m interested in that one.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Beautiful photos of the exhibition! I somehow missed it when it was in Munich. The first unlabeled picture is called Bridge in the Rain. About the second one I am not sure, it looks a bit like Thatched Cottages at Cordeville. It is a shame the pictures where not labeled in the exhibition, not during the immersive experience but later.

    Liked by 2 people

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