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Van Gogh: Immersive Experience (Arlington) / c Exhibition Hub 2021

3 Ways to Experience Van Gogh

A fine art exhibition, two “immersive” experiences—and how to tell them apart and what makes them kid-friendly

“The Starry Night,” “Sunflowers,” “Café Terrace at Night”— There’s no confusing these works as created by any other except Dutch artist Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853–1890), who posthumously earned the world’s recognition as one of the greatest painters of all time.

But if you’ve only ever seen Van Gogh’s Post-Impressionist masterpieces on wall posters or screen printed hand towels, then for the love of all that’s good and wholly artistic, do your family a favor by treating them out to one of three local exhibitions—each in varying fashion.

One exhibit opening this month in one of Dallas’ prestigious art museums is a bona fide exhibition of priceless paintings, created by the artist during the last year of his life. The other two world-touring installations present Van Gogh’s works in a breathtaking way never seen before in Texas: using 21st-century technology to animate and projects his paintings onto walls all around—inside a warehouse-style setting.

These latter two, which both opened over the summer, are strikingly similar in their style and presentation, so we’ll break down what makes each unique (which one is our editor’s favorites*)—and how to tell them apart when purchasing tickets.

Which “Immersive” is Which?

At first glance, the two concurrent “immersive” exhibits look exactly alike, which has led to confusion and complaints from ticketholders. Before you press that “buy” button, be mindful of these differences when you’re purchasing tickets so that you wind up at the correct venue at the correct time.

Title: Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit ——– Van Gogh Exhibition: The Immersive Experience
Logo: Look for the sunflower 🌻  ———– no 🌻 in logo
City: Dallas ———— Arlington (website says “Dallas,” it’s not—it’s Arlington)
Website: dallasvangogh.com ————— vangoghexpo.com/dallas (but, again, not in Dallas)
Instagram: @vangoghdallas —————- @vangogh.experience

Immersive Van Gogh

Venue: Lighthouse Dallas
Dates: Now extended (again!) through February 28, 2022
Contact: 844/307-4644; dallasvangogh.com
Online extras: Lighthouse Immersive app (free)

Why Gogh? Multisensory experience of still-art-turned-animated, plus yoga classes

Housed inside the former Masonic Temple (nearby Dallas Farmers Market, for reference), this much-hyped immersive exhibit was created by Italian installation artist Massimiliano Siccardi and features elements designed by Broadway set designer David Korins (Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen). You may have also seen it plugged on Netflix’s “Emily in Paris.”

The projections vary by room (three total) with the largest being the second room, where social circles projected onto the floor encourage social distancing as you stand, sit or stroll through the exhibit. The moving images—40 paintings from over 400 licensed photos, at times fragmented as they reflect onto various beams and surfaces—make for a feast for the senses. Along with the moving images splashed across the walls and floors, choreographed music ranging from orchestral music by Handel to Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.

For another level of meditation, sign up for half-hour yoga classes, open to all fitness levels, on weekend mornings before the exhibit opens. The $54 fee includes 25 minutes after the class to enjoy the exhibit. Stay tuned for a restaurant and rooftop bar expected to come in 2022 with the next exhibit featuring the work of Gustav Klimt.

Kid-friendly: Kids 5 and younger are free and don’t require tickets. If your children are somewhat sensitive to sounds, considering bringing ear protection so they can more closely focus on the art.

Tickets: Adult prices from $39, $29 for children; free for 5 and younger. $99 for VIP tickets include a branded cushion to sit on during the exhibit and to keep.

*Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience

Venue: Choctaw Stadium (formerly Globe Life Park in Arlington)
Dates: Extended through January 22, 2022
Contact: vangoghexpo.com and feverup.com
Online extras:  thevangoghstudio.com (access with ticket purchase)

Why Gogh? Virtual reality headsets and a coloring room for kids

Van Gogh: Immersive Experience (Arlington) / c Dan Swartz for Exhibition Hub and Fever
Photo courtesy of Dan Swartz for Exhibition Hub and Fever

Not to be upstaged, this Arlington exhibit of light and sound not only bathes the walls with floor-to-ceiling digital projections rooms but varies by the style by area. In a blend that more closely mimics a museum-style exhibit, with framed images, separate galleries chronicle Vincent van Gogh’s techniques and his artistic influences. Interactives and vignettes give even more context to what was happening in Van Gogh’s life during the times he painted he most famous works.

Kid-friendly: As if this isn’t immersive enough, put on a set of virtual reality goggles to walk through the city that inspired eight of his iconic works, such as “The Bedroom” and “Starry Night Over the Rhône.” During an 11-minute journey via the VR headset, you’ll travel through 8 works and their source of inspiration in “A Day in the Life of the Artist in Arles, France.” (Note that visitors must wear a mask in this area and will receive another disposable mask to avoid contact between their skin and the goggles. Staff disinfects the VR equipment and chairs after each use.)

The end of the exhibition leads you to the creative workshop for children, where spacious tables and provided crayons encourage kids to channel all the inspiration they’ve just absorbed into coloring sheets outlined with Van Gogh’s famous works and then project their pages onto the wall using a digital projector.

Tickets: Admission starts at $36 for adults and $19.90 for children; free for children under 4. Family passes available.VIP tickets are $54.50 for adults and $34.90 for children. VIP ticketholders get priority access to VR experiences.

*Van Gogh and the Olive Groves

Venue: Dallas Museum of Art
Dates: October 17, 2021–February 6, 2022
Contact: 214/922-1200; dma.org/vangogh

Why Gogh: Authentic masterpieces rarely on view—think “slow art”

Despite the fanciful presentations of the two “immersive” exhibits, nothing replaces standing in the presence of Van Gogh’s actual masterpieces and seeing them with your own eyes. In this traditional museum setting without the hustle and bustle, patrons can more quietly contemplate his life story and techniques in this series of 15 works on a single subject and track how his technique slightly shifts with each canvas.

Vincent van Gogh, Olive Grove with Two Olive Pickers, December 1889. Photographer Rik Klein Gotink
Vincent van Gogh, Olive Grove with Two Olive Pickers, December 1889. Photographer Rik Klein Gotink.

Co-organized by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, this groundbreaking exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art is the very first exhibition dedicated to Vincent van Gogh’s important olive grove series, which the artist created during one of the most difficult (and last) periods of his life—his 6-month stay as a self-admitted patient at the asylum of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in 1889.

Kid-friendly: To help your young ones grasp the subject matter, the DMA offers take-home art kits throughout the exhibition, a Van Gogh coloring book available at the visitor services desk, and kid-focused workshops in the C3 studio. Educators teach a class for toddlers on Nov. 12, 16 and 19 and on Dec. 11 for older kids ages 6–12, so book your reservations now. Both classes are $8, or $5 for DMA members.

On Nov. 7, museum members may also attend the Digital Book Talk about Barbara Stok’s emotional graphic novel Vincent, which is recommended for readers 8–12 years.

Tickets: To access tickets for this special exhibit, visitors must first reserve a free general admission online for a selected date and then add on a matching exhibition ticket: $20 Tuesdays–Thursdays and $24 Fridays–Sundays; free for children 11 and younger.

Top image: Van Gogh: Immersive Experience (Arlington), courtesy of Exhibition Hub 2021