You might’ve seen recent promotions for an upcoming immersive Vincent van Gogh experience, a highly Instagrammable installation that allows guests to step inside the artist’s paintings. Upon closer look, you might’ve also realized that Denver is actually hosting not one, but two such experiences this year: Immersive van Gogh Denver and Van Gogh Alive: the experience.
More confusing still: While these are the only ones scheduled for Denver, there are in fact six international tours currently claiming to offer immersive van Gogh experiences. Why the immersive van Gogh craze? The New York Times speculated it could be in part due to the timeless accessibility of the artist’s imagery, and that van Gogh’s famous struggles with mental health might resonate with viewers in this moment especially. In recent years, a few movies have circulated about the artist, including the 2018 Willem Dafoe film At Eternity’s Gate and Loving Vincent, an animated film that set the artist’s signature swirling brushstrokes in motion.
Neither of the Denver experiences will display any of the artist’s physical artwork. Instead visitors to both exhibits will be immersed in massive projected reconstructions of his paintings designed to transport audiences into van Gogh’s colorful world.
But what’s the difference between the two experiences, and how do you make sure you’re buying tickets for the right one?
Van Gogh Alive: the experience
Van Gogh Alive, a multisensory experience from immersive arts group Grande Experiences, has been around longer than the other exhibit, having debuted in 2011. It’s the same group that brought Leonardo da Vinci – 500 Years of Genius to the DMNS a few years back.
Van Gogh Alive is marketed as “the world’s most visited multi-sensory experience.” It’s toured dozens of cities, most recently, St. Petersburg. Visitors experience not only shifting images projected onto a series of huge rectangular screens, but sounds and smells that accompany van Gogh’s imagery to further immerse in his scenes.
The Denver installation will also feature a walk-in recreation of van Gogh’s “Bedroom in Arles” painting, as well as a “Sunflower selfie room.” Both are designed to be Instagram-friendly photo ops.
July 9-September 26, 2021.
Adult tickets run from $35-55 and can be purchased here. Youth/Student tickets are $25.
Immersive van Gogh Denver
Designed and conceived by contemporary artist Massimiliano Siccardi, Immersive van Gogh debuted in Paris in 2019. It’s currently posted in Chicago, where guests are invited to stand six feet apart as the walls and floors transform into van Gogh’s paintings. Visitors to the Denver experience will explore 500,000 cubic feet of projected animation. They will sit or stand as colors, light and brushstrokes swirl around them set to a soundtrack by composer Luca Longobardi.
We don’t yet know where the experience will be staged. The location is currently secret, but the project’s marketing materials promise it’ll be “a historic Venue in the heart of Denver.” Ticketholders will be notified of the venue once it becomes public.
This experience debuts shortly after Van Gogh Alive closes. It runs from September 30, 2021, until at least February 6, 2022.
Tickets are $39.99-99.99 for adults and $29.99 for children. You can buy them here.
If immersive, Instagram-friendly art is your thing, either experience seems like a safe bet. Both installations seem to offer comparable experiences: an immersion in the lights and colors and brushstrokes that made up van Gogh’s world. However, keep in mind that these are projected reproductions of van Gogh’s art, and not the real thing. Fortunately, both shows have toured other cities before landing in Denver, so you have the chance to check out reviews before deciding if it’s worth your money.