Recently I was given a wonderful opportunity to see the immersive Van Gogh exhibit with my boyfriend in Charlotte, North Carolina. In my opinion, the exhibit was fantastic, and would recommend anyone to go and experience it! Not only did they have the virtual reality part of the exhibit, but they included other things as well.
I was in awe by the fact that the exhibit was held in an old Ford motor assembly building that was built in 1924. I believe it’s pretty amazing when you can refurbish an old building and turn it into something creative and create a space other people can enjoy too. The building still had its original steel and glass windows, brick, and stone flooring. And to my surprise, the building did not feel drafty and cold inside but felt pretty warm for being such an old building.
Before you go into the main virtual reality part of the exhibit you walk through the building and are able to see artworks, sculptures, and clothing designs done by artists inspired by Van Gogh’s work. There is an educational aspect of the exhibit where you can read about Van Gogh, his life, and all his artworks. One interesting thing that I learned there was that Vincent van Gogh created over 35 self-portraits but only one portrait photo of him has survived. They also include quotes by Van Gogh and have them printed on walls all around the building.
After you walk through the first part of the building you stop and show your ticket to the person who is standing beside the tire sculpture. They then tell you to follow the arrows they have marked and you walk through a small dark tunnel. As you emerge from the dark tunnel you walk into this gigantic 15,000 square-foot projection room that is displaying 360degree views of Van Gogh and his artworks. Due to some Covid restrictions, you had to wear a mask and social distance but the cool thing about the exhibit was that they had these circles laid out on the floor with benches placed inside on them so people could sit and enjoy the exhibit but also be far away enough to social distance. My boyfriend and I decided to sit somewhere in the back because the front of the room was already pretty crowded. So we sit down and start to enjoy the visual part of the exhibit. It was so mesmerizing and visually beautiful to watch the slideshow depicting Van Gogh, his early works which include sketches, then his later works, and of course, famous pieces like Starry Night appeared on the screen. The ending of it was very unique as well. They showed his self-portrait of him in the straw hat with birthday candles on top and as the slide keeps moving, the candles are blown out suggesting his death. They also included a variety of music to go with different parts of the slides and I felt like that connected everything together in a beautiful way.
The virtual reality part of the exhibit ran about an hour but you were allowed to stay in there for as long as you wanted to so we stayed in there for about two hours. When you’re done watching the visual aspect, you exited through another dark tunnel and were led to the exhibits gift shop. They had a cafe part which was set up very nicely but we ended up going to eat somewhere else. They also had booths of local artists showing and selling their works.
In all, the exhibit was pretty amazing. The visual effects and music played along with it were beyond any of my expectations. Being inside the room with 360degree views of his work made me feel like I was actually there inside of his work and that was an awesome feeling. I also feel like after experiencing this exhibit, I can appreciate his work, his artistry, and him as a person more. I would also recommend this exhibit to anybody because I believe that all people could benefit from being exposed to his work in this visual way.