Seattle’s immersive Van Gogh show is finally open. Does it live up to the hype?


Show Notice

Unless you’ve lived under a rock, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a “Starry Night” reproduction somewhere. Vincent Van Gogh, the Dutch Post-Impressionist, is everywhere. This is the star of five – FIVE! – competing immersive exhibitions that are currently touring the United States. Exhibition Hub, the company behind the show that opened in Seattle on October 20, simultaneously features Van Gogh shows in nine other U.S. cities (including New York, Boston, Miami and Houston).

It’s art for the masses, and I don’t mean it in a bad way. Any way to get people interested in art is a good thing. This art snob spent nearly two hours inside and enjoyed the show more than expected.

Seattle’s Van Gogh Lounge was in trouble even before it opened and received a warning from the Better Business Bureau. Tickets had been on sale since spring, promoting a “secret spot” to be announced, but the slated September opening date flicked back and forth, frustrating many ticket holders.

Lots of delays and complaints to the BBB and the Washington State Attorney General’s office later, “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” is finally open in Seattle.

“It just took us a little longer to find the right place and open it,” said Exhibition Hub executive producer John Zaller. “We are delighted to be here and bring arts and culture to Sodo.

“Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” is presented as a 360 degree digital art experience. The jewel of this exhibit is an 8,000 square foot room in the center of the space with projections over 2 floors. A video runs on a 35-minute loop, splicing and cutting elements from more than 300 Van Gogh drawings, sketches and paintings, to a personalized soundtrack. You can stand in the center of the room and surround yourself on all four sides with this dynamic fixture projected from floor to ceiling.

In the surrounding galleries, you will see life-size canvas reproductions of Van Gogh’s paintings. (The real “Starry Night”? It’s surprisingly small, barely 2 ½ by 3 feet.) There is also a 9-foot bust of the artist, made of sculpted moss, on which his self-portraits are projected. In another video installation, you will see a sculpted vase on which various flower arrangements are projected. Van Gogh painted the same vase over and over again – this guy lacked funds.

In the art studio, visitors can create their own Van Gogh-inspired art. You can choose a Van Gogh coloring sheet or start from scratch on a blank sheet of paper. Take a photo of your masterpiece and it will be projected on the wall.

Gig Harbor's Allison Sutcliffe photographs her 3-year-old daughter, Cynthia, inside Vincent Van Gogh's bedroom diorama which he has painted on several occasions.  It's part of the show

The show ends with an optional VR experience, which costs an additional $ 5, unless you’ve purchased VIP tickets. (Headsets are wiped down between users.) I sat in the swivel seat for a 10-minute trip, starting in Van Gogh’s famous room in Arles, then driving through the French countryside, seeing what inspired his famous paintings. Worth the $ 5, but I got a little nauseous at the end. Virtual reality is not for small children or people who tend to be seasick. Above all, don’t try to get up.

The show is hosted in a 44,000 square foot warehouse in Sodo, one block south of T-Mobile Park. I thought I had taken a wrong turn until I saw the exterior of the building, painted a brilliant blue to make it stand out. Exhibition Hub finalized the lease in September and invested nearly $ 2 million to transform this minimalist warehouse. His first Van Gogh show opened in 2018 in a cathedral in Italy.

If you’re planning on going, here’s how: Go on a weekday morning, when it isn’t crowded and tickets are cheaper. The show runs for about six months, so wait until the initial hubbub wears off. The timed ticket booth helps with crowd control, but still 100 to 125 people can enter the exhibit every half hour.

This show is no substitute for going to see the real stuff in person, if you’re willing to catch a flight to the Museum of Modern Art in New York or the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The paintings in real life are a bit of a let down because they are so small. Here they are magnified, moving, swirling, an oversized sensory experience, more in line with our modern attention span.

Why the sudden deluge of Van Gogh shows? Zaller cited the artist’s use of color and the energy of his brushstrokes, which allowed the paintings to translate well into projected digital form. It also doesn’t hurt that Van Gogh’s works are all in the public domain, so there is no copyright to dispute.

Ironically, Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime. He was helpless. He probably would have loved this show and loved having a part of it.

If you are going to

“Van Gogh: the immersive experience”

Or: 1750 Occidental Ave. S. in Sodo, one block south of T-Mobile Park

When: Tickets are currently available online through January 30, although there is no confirmed end date and the show will likely run for six months. Hourly tickets are available every half hour from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays except Tuesday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends. Closed Tuesday, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Tickets: Available at / m / 96395. Prices start at $ 41 for adults and $ 24.90 for children. Children under 4 are free. Prices are higher for evenings, weekends and VIP tickets. The VR experience, which you can purchase on site, is an additional $ 5 for holders of standard access tickets.

COVID-19 Requirements: Anyone aged 12 and over must show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours. Masks are mandatory.

More information:

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct name of the production company.


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