They said it was breathtaking, but I didn’t think they meant it literally. Well I didn’t think they meant it literally until my jaw was on the floor and I still couldn’t catch my breath. For art-lovers, this is a once in a lifetime experience. But just for now I hope—I’m expecting many more shows like this to come.
Like anyone who has googled an artist or artwork in the last six months, I first saw an ad for the Immersive Van Gogh on my Instagram feed. It was in New York at the time, and I was secretly envious of everyone there. When my mom asked if I wanted tickets, I said save your breath, of course I want to go.
The week of our tickets, she mentioned a rip off exhibition in the area that was charging a large amount of money for a cheap thirty-minute experience. She assured me we had the right tickets, the ones for the show from New York, so everything was fine. A friend mentioned she went to see a Van Gogh exhibit and that it was ok, but it was short and maybe not worth the money. I assumed she had gone to the imposter show.
Day of, my mom and I walked up to Lighthouse Dallas, eager to see the show. We had the QR code for our tickets, got scanned in, and were directed to go pick up a seat cushion. It felt a little sacrilegious to sit on Starry Night, but I was grateful for the foam padding when I walked into the theater.
The theater consisted of three rooms, each playing the same show and music. My mom and I chose the largest room, the one in the middle, for its scattered chairs and high ceilings. I wanted to feel immersed, and I knew the larger than life projection in that room would provide that feeling. The bedroom scene was starting, white outlines forming on the walls and color blocks falling into place. It wasn’t the beginning, people enter and exit continuously, but, after watching the show twice, I don’t think it makes a difference.
I am not going to go into much detail about the show itself—the photos and videos speak for themselves, and I truly couldn’t do it justice, but there are a few things to note about those considering going. For those who do not have a great interest or knowledge about art, it is important to note that the Immersive Van Gogh is not educational. You will learn little to nothing about Van Gogh from the show itself. There is a podcast posted on the website to listen to beforehand for a little background, but really the show is just a new artwork in itself. It demonstrates the ability of art technology today and makes the late 1800s feel contemporary.
For those with previous art knowledge or an interest in Van Gogh, it is an incredible presentation of his technique. Do not worry about the music, it is actually very well curated to the paintings and only enhanced the experience. It is a sensory overload, but a pleasant one indeed. I felt synesthetic, like I was floating out of my chair.
The paintings came to life before me, bringing me into the iris garden, walking me along the Seine and drawing me up in the sky with the stars. I saw each painting, each brushstroke, color, and form anew. I met each of the figures in his portraits and got to know the intimate details of their faces like I’d seen them in real life. When we looped back around to the bedroom drawing, my mom and I looked at each other and simultaneously decided we had to see it one more time.
On the way out, you can exchange your seat cushion for a poster, which I thought was a great deal until I saw how boldly they printed the logo on top of Van Gogh’s face. If you are looking for a memento after the show, skip the posters—the logo is huge on all of them. Instead, opt for the stationary or a journal. The back of the stationary looks just like an art print when framed, and the journals are just incredible, incorporating the paintings into every page. I also left with a canvas bag and considered grabbing a teacup set, but thought I might cross the line from art-lover to flat-out nerd if I did. Not saying that I am not a flat-out nerd, but that I don’t need to put it out on display to the public.
All in all, this is an incredible show no matter what, but whether it’s worth the money is up to you. I have heard both things and can see both sides. Luckily, they extended the show through December, and are releasing tickets now, so you have the option to decide for yourself. Currently they are priced at $55, with evening tickets (after 6pm) being $60. The link to the Dallas exhibit is below if you decide you want to buy tickets. I hope you enjoy!