Everything you need to know about the immersive experience
Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience invites guests to step into the artwork of one of the most influential artists in history, bringing his paintings to life by incorporating still and moving art. The event hopes to foster a “new appreciation of this prolific artist’s stunning work.” I had the opportunity to see the exhibit on Saturday, June 24.
The event was initially supposed to open on October 14, 2022, but was postponed several times due to issues with permits. Beyond Van Gogh is now open Tuesday to Sunday until Aug. 20, also offering a yoga class in collaboration with One Yoga Victoria on July 15 and Aug. 12 for $51.99, including access to the exhibit.
If yoga is not your thing, there are three tiers of tickets available: basic timed entry, premium flex, and VIP. Prices vary depending on the day, starting at $31.99 for adults and $23.99 for children 5–15. Children four and under can get in for free. On off-peak days (Tuesday to Thursday) Beyond Van Gogh offers a discounted rate of $28.99 for students and seniors. Tickets on peak days are an additional $10 each. VIP tickets include the flexible extry, along with priority access to the exhibit, the VR experience, and a merchandise package. For basic entry, you must arrive on time as they cannot guarantee entry for late guests. While it’s not specified on the website, parking is an additional $10 with limited street parking near the venue.
Upon entering the exhibit, I stepped into the introduction room and was greeted by a series of lightboxes with paintings, biographical information, and quotes from Van Gogh’s letters to his brother, Theo.
“Find things beautiful as much as you can, most people find too little beautiful,” wrote Van Gogh in January 1874.
The introduction room was my favorite because it provides the opportunity to experience Van Gogh’s life through his own words.
Next, I was guided into the “waterfall room” for a seven minute video demonstrating how they recreated Van Gogh’s “swirling brush strokes and how he paired dissimilar colors to create a three-dimensional effect.”
Rather than a real waterfall, digital projections flow down the walls of the space. Staff suggest using this section to get used to the projections and prepare for the moving art. However, I couldn’t help being disappointed that the room contained no real water and found the letters in the previous section to be a better introduction to Van Gogh and his work.
Finally, the immersive space features hundreds of artworks projected on every surface in the room, accompanied by a symphonic score also available on Spotify. Through subtle animations, the art is brought to life, creating the sensation that you are moving with the paintings. It takes you through Van Gogh’s early work in the Netherlands to his turbulent later years in France. Different art is displayed around the room, so I recommend wandering throughout the space. There is also limited first-come-first-served seating but plenty of people sit on the floor as well.
I spent about an hour going through the entire exhibit, which is the suggested time for the self-guided tour. However, you can take as much time as you need, you just can’t move backwards. It can also be quite slow depending on how long the people in front of you spend looking at each piece.
A few other things to note are that the event encourages pictures, but asks that flash is not used. There are also no bathrooms inside. While there is a portable in the parking lot, it is not wheelchair accessible. Finally, I found leaving the venue challenging, as the exit led into a gravel lot that didn’t connect to the parking lot.
Those who attend the experience also have the option to view Beyond Van Gogh: A Life in Letters, a short VR experience which narrates his life and artistic process through his writing. While the VR aspect is interesting, I found it to be underwhelming for the additional cost. If you’d prefer to save the $12.50, skipping it won’t take away from the experience.
Overall, Beyond Van Gogh is a unique experience, but the price can run high with the additional costs. If you’re interested in attending, especially as a student, I would recommend going on an off-peak day for the discounted rates and skipping the VR experience.