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I Was Skeptical About Immersive Van Gogh...Until I Went

You know how some things, well, you’re not quite sure will live up to the hype? I was afraid Immersive Van Gogh wouldn't, but it totally did and here’s why!

There are a number of Van Gogh exhibits right now – Immersive Van Gogh, the Van Gogh Exhibition: The Immersive Experience, Van Gogh Alive, Beyond Van Gogh: An Immersive Experience, Imagine Van Gogh: The Immersive Exhibition. Seriously, folks, Van Gogh is awesome, but do we really need five exhibits? Is one better than another? I have no idea, but we went to Immersive Van Gogh in New York City.

Price: I paid $131.74 for two tickets that offered a two hour flexible entry window! Yikes! It seemed terribly expensive for something I wasn’t sure about. So why did I buy the tickets? I was going to be in New York City and I was looking for something different to do. Since the exhibit promoted (now necessary) COVID era event buzzwords - reduced capacity, social distancing, masking requirement, timed tickets - I thought it would be a “safe” activity.

Although I could have gotten at least one complimentary ticket through the Immersive Van Gogh Ambassador program because of Traveleidoscope, I decided against it. In case I hated it, I didn’t want to feel obligated to say nice things if I didn’t mean them, or post photos to social media if I didn't want to.

A rainy entrance at Pier 36. There's a security checkpoint where your bags are searched and you get "wanded' through security.

The Space: Marketed as “a secret location”, with ticket holders to receive notice of the location. I never got a notice. I learned about the location on social media. Then I saw it on the website.

According to the website, “the once-in-a-lifetime exhibit will be located at Pier 36 NYC, a 75,000 square foot waterfront space located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side with spectacular views of the East River and the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges.” Let’s be real. It was in a warehouse. On the docks.

The entrance where you show your electronic ticket.

So what is an “immersive” exhibit anyway? While it’s difficult to explain, basically, the art is projected onto the walls and floors around you, so that you're in the art. It’s also animated and set to music. Instead of the traditional way we view art – walking from room to room - you sit and experience the art. I know, I know, I was thinking it would be cheesy, too, just like you’re thinking right now. It was actually very cool. The pics give you a good idea of what to expect.

Reflexive pillars enhance the experience. Remember to turn off your flash. I forgot.

What was so great about it? It was a completely unexpected way to experience art. What could have been an overpriced gimmick, was interesting and intriguing. Again, it's unlike the way we're used to seeing art. There is no description of the painting or explanation of what Van Gogh was doing at the time. It's straight forward entertainment. If you're already a Van Gogh fan, you'll be familiar with the art that's part of the exhibition. For those not familiar with Van Gogh's works, it's a great introduction to him that's not intimidating or stuffy.

You can sit on a socially distanced bench or on one of the circles projected onto the floor. You can even go to a viewing platform..

The organizers have a sense of humor!

Would I recommend the exhibit? Yup! For sure. It’s very cool... unless perhaps, you’re on a mind altering or psychedelic drug. Seriously, the lights and movement can be overwhelming at times. It’s not cheap, so go for a special occasion instead of a “normal” museum visit. The “experience” will take you about an hour, but we enjoyed it so much we stayed to watch the “show” twice!


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