We’ve been hearing back it for months, we’ve seen the Facebook ads, watched the trailer and now, it’s here, it’s open and I got to check it out.
Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience is a 360º digital art exhibition in Schenectady that invites you to step into the universe of the Dutch genius, Vincent van Gogh. It is brought to you by the organizers of a collection of widely successful exhibitions present in cities across Europe, Asia, and the Americas, according to their website. But after checking it out on Thursday, it’s much more than that.
No one can deny that Van Gogh is one of the most famous artists of all time, due to many factors but in good part, I’m assuming, to his masterpiece Starry Night. What you may not know is that it wasn’t the case while he was alive. I don’t want to take away from what you may learn from the immersive experience but no one really took him seriously, including his three sisters who supported him but “were seemingly disinterested in his work.” Some considered him a failure and a madman, he even spent some time in various psychiatric hospitals. His life even ended tragically by suicide when he was just 37.
Diving deeper and being able to explore his genius now is such an honor. Learned that not only was he incredibly gifted, obviously but that he was color blind and still created works that are praised for their use of color. Also, he was suffering so much internally but still created beautiful works like Starry Night and his sunflower series. You truly get a feel for Van Gogh in this exhibit.
When you first walk in, you’re welcomed by a timeline of his history and a 3D 6ft head of Van Gogh with his works projected on it. It’s quite an interesting concept to see the works literally on the mind that created them. Next, you head into the first gallery room which features his sunflower series as well as some of his most popular works.
ROOM 1 – There’s a brief 6-minute movie on how his colorblindness affected how he painted and how, looking at it now, it really proves what an artistic genius he was. The pieces of art are printed on canvas, not actual works, but you still get to look up close and personal at the beauty he created. Before you head into the next room, don’t miss the projection of all of his flower works on a 3D vase, the transitions are beautiful.
ROOM 2 – This room begins with his experience in Japan. At this point in his work, he focused a lot on layering and the exhibit takes one of his works and separates the layers- stand on the projected camera to see it the way it was painted. You may also recognize the giant replication of his “Bedroom in Arles.” They encourage you to be a part of the piece – take photos and videos and walk into the mind of Van Gogh to interact with his work.
ROOM 3 – This is the “crown jewel,” if you will, of the exhibit, the 360 immersion experience. In this room is a 360º movie that lasts 35 minutes. There is no time limit in this room so no worries if you want to watch it multiple times from multiple angles. Honestly, it’s incredible. The transitions they have between his works and his inspirations really make you feel like you’re a part of each and every one. My only recommendation is that if you want to film any of this part of the experience, watch it twice. Take it all in first, phone down, and then, the second time, get your memories. It’s amazing to get lost in Van Gogh’s world.
ROOM 4 – This is your chance to create your own Van Gogh. The room has multiple tables and chairs. You select your favorite Van Gogh piece from the coloring sheets on the wall and use your imagination to create your version of a Van Gogh. Then, place it on the projector in the middle and add it to the exhibit’s collection for others to enjoy.
ROOM 5 – You walk into a room lined by Oculus headsets. This experience is included in your VIP experience or an extra $5 with a standard experience. This is a 10-minute virtual reality experience as you walk through France with Van Gogh and he describes where he came up with the ideas for some of his more popular works. It’s an amazing experience and you’ll feel like you’re fully surrounded by Van Gogh’s world.
I could talk all day about this experience and all that I learned about Van Gogh, his life, and his way with words, but instead, go see this exhibition for yourself!
Time slots for the experience are available every half hour (the whole experience takes around 60-75 minutes to get through but there’s no time limit). It’s open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 am-7 pm (except Friday until 9 pm), Saturday 9 am-9 pm, and Sunday 9 am-6 pm. The experience is closed on Tuesday. Parking is available in multiple lots around the Schenectady Armory. Entrance is through the front door with accessible entrances available.
Standard admission for Adults (18+) is $37.20 during the week and $40.40 on the weekend, Children (ages 4-12) are $24.10 during the week and $29.50 on the weekend.
VIP admission includes entry to the VR experience with skip-the-line and a Starry Night poster. Adults (18+) are $56.50 during the week and $59.80 on the weekend, Children (ages 4-12) are $43.40 during the week, and $48.90 on the weekend.
They have a family pass available (2 adults + 2 kids) for $107.00 during the week and $121.80 on the weekend. There’s also a senior (65+), student (13-26), or military discount for $25.70 during the week and $31.70 on the weekend.