By Jessica Stevens
Boston University News Service
“Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” exposes visitors to sides of Vincent Van Gogh they may have never seen before. Through his paintings, family history, and life recreations, viewers get to see his life through both a lucid and psychotic lens.
The exhibit, which opened at the Strand Theatre on Oct. 6, features Van Gogh’s life and greatest paintings through projections, virtual reality, and more.
The experience has been on display all over the United States and also internationally in cities such as Berlin, Brussels and Tel Aviv.
In the exhibit, Van Gogh’s work is projected onto the walls all the way from the ceiling to the floor. There are also recreations of his life such as his bedroom as well as galleries that follow the chronological timeline of his life.
CEO of Exhibition Hub Mario Iacampo said this specific experience is more unique than other Van Gogh exhibits because of its distinct approach.
“What I wanted to do was create an exhibit that was more anecdotal, than it was scientific,” Iacampo said.
The exhibit includes a range of segments that are audible, immersive and interactive. In one area, people can even draw and project their own images.
“Even if you’re not a Van Gogh fan or aren’t really familiar with his work or his life, you should still definitely check it out,” said Jazmine Gregory, a Providence resident who attended the exhibit on opening day. “It was 100% worth it.”
The exhibit’s Boston site, the Strand Theatre, has hosted various types of entertainment for over 100 years.
“It always starts with the venue,” Iacampo said. “In Boston, we were at another venue we really didn’t like … we kept looking, looking, looking, and eventually it worked out with the Strand.”
The venue plays a significant role in how the exhibit is presented, and it can change based on its location, Iacampo said.
“The Strand was a more complex venue than just a box,” Iacampo said. “The content is generally the same in each city, but it needs to be modified each time to fit in a particular venue.”
Lauren Pardue, from southern New Hampshire, attended the exhibit in London in the spring of 2020 and is eager to see it again in Boston.
“I absolutely loved the immersive ability of it: the built sets that look like his paintings, the activities that were throughout the place, and the details of Van Gogh’s life that it told,” Pardue said.
Pardue wanted the chance to be a part of the experience again. At the time, she didn’t even know the location of the exhibit, but still purchased her ticket, she said.
“I waited for it to travel to the states, and when I heard that it was finally coming to Boston, I bought tickets immediately,” Pardue said. “The experience was so great the first time, so I knew it would be great again.”
There were some reported scheduling issues prior to the opening. According to Iacampo, it can be difficult to time the incoming shipments for the opening of exhibits due to COVID-19. He said, if delayed, the tickets are still valid and can be rescheduled.
“We appreciate the patience of the customers,” Iacampo said. “By and large, they’ve been very understanding. Obviously, if somebody bought a ticket, they can come any time and that ticket will be valid.”
Gregory said the exhibition gives a good scope of Van Gogh’s life and art as well as shows the psyche behind his work.
“I had a great time at that exhibition – it was absolutely incredible.” Gregory said. “I’ve been a Van Gogh fan for most of my life and I surprisingly didn’t know a whole lot about his life, how he became a painter, and what inspired his different paintings.”
The “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” will be open in Boston from early October through late January.
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