The hype was real by the time we ascended the stairs of Lighthouse, the former Masonic Temple in Dallas’ historic East Quarter now newly converted into an arts venue. Immersive Van Gogh, with its Starry Night projections and social media-ready promise, has seemingly swept the country in one fell swoop. Here’s Madonna, immersing herself in the New York City exhibit at Pier 36. While I was visiting Los Angeles last weekend, friends were disappointed when the exhibit was abruptly postponed the night before (there was an issue with city permits). Dueling van Gogh exhibitions have even begun rapidly cropping up. Now, it’s our city’s turn to immerse ourselves in sunflowers and stars. Before the exhibit opens to the public on August 7, we got to experience the exhibit in all its lavish glory.
Inside the cavernous space, a mix of booming music and visuals immediately takes over. Projections, rendered by a group of artists out of Italy, are constantly moving and evolving into one iconic painting after another. Another room projects the artist’s works around a striking mirror forest designed by the show’s creative director David Korins, who’s received awards for his design work on Hamilton and Dear Evan Hanson.
Prior to entering, the team behind the show shared how the exhibit is meant to affect its visitors. “Immersive art makes you feel differently,” shared curator Svetlana Dvoretsky. “With this particular work, we’ve seen people meditating, dancing, crying, even proposing — all kinds of emotions are coming out.”
It’s easy to imagine how things might get emotional. Surrounded by towering, ever-evolving visuals scored to roaring versions of songs by Imogen Heap, Luca Longobardi, and Édith Piaf’s “Non, je ne regrette rien,” it’s hard to do much else but feel — which is lovely. I began questioning what the Piaf song might have to do with van Gogh, but the thought was quickly drowned out. Immersive Van Gogh would be a great way to keep little ones’ attention while introducing them to the art world.
But now it’s time to address the most important question…
Is Immersive Van Gogh Dallas Worth It?
It’s certainly a unique way to experience art. But, as with any exhibit (particularly one with tickets starting at $39.99), it helps to know what to expect.
If you’re looking for museum-level education, with deep dives into the meanings of iconic works or a narrative about the artist, you might be better off waiting for “Van Gogh and the Olive Groves,” which will premiere at the Dallas Museum of Art in October.
But if you’re open to a purely aesthetic, emotional experience, Immersive Van Gogh is a beautiful way to spend about 45 minutes in the city. I kept thinking about how cool it might be to drop into the van Gogh dream world after a fun dinner downtown (or a psychedelic supplement). And sure, the exhibit looks great in pictures, but it’s best enjoyed phone down — maybe even lying down — so you can truly let the works wash over you. You can always do your research after.
Visit dallasvangogh.com for more information on the exhibit, which runs from August 7 through October 31.