A Trip Into the Art of Vincent Van Gogh at the Immersive Experience

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

 What would life be like if we had no courage to attempt anything?

-Vincent Van Gogh

Aren't we lucky that Van Gogh had courage, courage despite living a short life plagued with depression, psychotic episodes and delusions.  

Dutch artist, Vincent Van Gogh was born in 1853 but didn't become famous until after his death in 1890 at the age of 37 of a self inflicted gunshot. This was not the first evidence of his mental angst.  After a confrontation with his friend, avant-garde Paul Gauguin, Van Gogh cut off a piece of his ear with a razor blade.  None of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings sold until after he died and today his paintings are some of the most expensive paintings ever sold.  

Since 2017, a 360° digital art exhibition has been traveling through Europe, Asia, North and South America.  This "Immersive Experience" just opened in Schenectady NY, and John and I got to experience it first hand today.  I have to admit I wouldn't consider myself a Van Gogh fan but that didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying the Experience.  And....I have a much better appreciation and admiration for his art after being 'inside' of it today.  I mean that quite literally.

For those unfamiliar, the exhibit is located inside the Armory Studio in Schenectady, otherwise known as the Schenectady Armory on Washington Avenue by Schenectady Community College.  I have to say, the one flaw about the location was the parking.  While there is a small handicap lot on the side of the building with a ramp, the parking lots are a bit of a hike for older folks. It doesn't look far, but you will have to walk around to the front of the building to enter and then climb a flight of steps.  For those who can handle the walk but not the stairs, maybe entry to the building at the handicap lot would be useful.  For the young and able, there's plenty of parking.

Once inside, visitors can wander through a hall of Van Gogh art flanked by information about the artist.  Ticket holders eventually enter a large area with 50ft ceilings where spectators can sit in sling-type chairs or on benches.  We opted for a bench.  For the next 40 minutes, Van Gogh's paintings are projected on every wall with movement and quotes, along with what is meant to be Van Gogh narrating.  At first I'll admit it was a little overwhelming trying to figure out where to look so as not to miss anything, but once we figured out that images would repeat and would appear on one side then the next, we were able to relax our focus and just take it all in.  Beautiful music also played in the background making the exhibit an experience for even more of the senses.  

Above, what you can't see, is the fact that the colors and patterns were moving over a 3D bust of Van Gogh.  It was so mesmerizing!

We had the first tickets of the morning, 10:00am. I expected it not to be crowded on a weekday but was surprised to find a good sized crowd with around 25 waiting outside for the doors to open. I've read that only 200 are admitted at a time and it didn't feel at all crowded in the 20,000sq. ft. space, especially during these Covid times. It's good to know the movie plays on repeat, and guests came and left throughout. Tickets are sold at 30 minute intervals and the entire experience with enjoying the exhibit before the show takes a comfortable 60-75min.

 After leaving the "immersive" part of the show, guests could sit and color Van Gogh's paintings with printed sheets and crayons provided.  

The exhibit was scheduled to be in town through August but was extended.  The exhibit is closed on Tuesdays.  For more information and to buy tickets: Van Gogh in Schenectady  Ticket prices are:
$32.20 for adults, $19.10 for kids 12 and under, $20.70 for seniors, students and military.  For those looking for a VIP experience that includes a special VR experience with goggles. and a "Starry Night" poster, it'll cost you an additional $19.10.  We didn't opt for that but I've heard it's well worth it.  There's also a gift shop filled with a large selection of items bearing Van Gogh's art from jewelry to clothing, umbrellas to notebooks, posters, books and so much more.  I will admit I enjoyed this experience far more than I expected to considering I wasn't an ardent fan.  If you love Van Gogh or art in general, I think you will love it too.

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