Visitors Step into Van Gogh’s Paintings in Van Gogh: the Immersive Experience at Tower Theater

In the Tower Theater, the colors of yellow, blue, green, and red cluster together on the wall. Sunflowers, The Starry Night, Wheatfield with Crows, and Almond Blooms move up and down on the ground. The light and music flow with the painting, dragging you into a certain scene. In Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, step by step, you can walk into a painting.

This exhibition projects tons of Van Gogh’s paintings, and each painting reflects Vincent Van Gogh’s life experience. He was born in Groot-Zundert, Holland on March 30, 1853, and is one of the most famous post-impressionist artists. Coming from a religious family, Van Gogh had struggled with his true calling for the gospel, but after working as a clerk, an art salesman, and a preacher, he realized that his calling was to become an artist. He went to Paris and Arles to start a new journey. However, by 1888, Van Gogh was living on coffee, bread, and absinthe. In addition to suffering from physical illness, his psychological health was declining. Van Gogh sipped on turpentine and ate paint.1 He ended up being sent to an asylum for treatment. On July 27, 1890, Van Gogh committed suicide.2

Van Gogh did not experience much success during his life, but during his brief artistic career, he developed his own bold and unconventional style in his paintings. In less than 10 years, he painted almost 900 paintings including The Starry Night, Tree Roots, Bedroom in Arles, and Vase with Twelve Sunflowers.3 Van Gogh’s legacy has left a lasting impact on the world of art, and he is viewed as one of the most influential artists that helped lay the foundation of modern art.4

Many of Van Gogh’s paintings are collected in museums as still objects, but through this exhibit, his works become dynamic. Van Gogh once said, “What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” This quote is shown on the blue board in the exhibition. Van Gogh: the Immersive Experience is organized by Exhibition Hub and Fever, a leading global entertainment discovery platform that helps people to discover the best experiences in their cities. Exhibition Hub is a producer and distributor of large exhibitions. It has produced more than 70 exhibitions and immersive entertainment experiences around the world. In this particular exhibit, they offer a spectacular experience with video, light, and virtual reality, allowing people to encounter the brilliance of Van Gogh’s artworks in a 360-degree exhibit of unparalleled proportions.5

“With deep appreciation and respect for the talented artist, we have designed a spectacular experience that is enriched with history, taking visitors throughout Van Gogh’s life to ensure inspiring, engaging, and educational entertainment,” Mario Iacampo, CEO of Exhibition Hub, said.6

60 projections bring 200 Van Gogh masterpieces to life on a 1000 m2 surface, animating the floor and all the walls around the viewers. The sound and light show lasts 35 minutes and runs on a loop with no beginning or end. In an additional separate room plays a five-minute documentary that shows Van Gogh’s technical skills, and it also offers a virtual reality tour that allows the visitors to experience his life.7

The organizer of Van Gogh: the Immersive Experience collaborates with other agencies to bring visitors a better view. Barco, the global leader in visual display technology, exclusively provides their latest and the most innovative 4K resolution technology,8 which includes state-of-the-art video mapping technology and floor projection.9

“We are thrilled to partner with the finest creative producers who share a vision of using the highest quality technology both for the projections and content to bring the works of the post-impressionist genius to life through a completely immersive digital experience unlike any other,” Iacampo said.10 

Tiana Johnson ’22 visited the exhibition. She says, “Normally when you see Van Gogh’s work, it is in the museum, like paintings in the frame hanging on the wall. But in this exhibition, when they projected Van Gogh’s painting in a room, you will feel like you are sitting in the painting and interacting with his work. It was an amazing experience.” 

Yan Huang, Upper School Mandarin Teacher, visited this art show during the summer. She says, “The music and animation in this exhibition visually showed me Van Gogh’s whole life and how he combined different types of art together. It was really thrilling to see.” 

This exhibition is held in 22 cities around the globe, thrilling 650,000 visitors since 2017, and will be up until 2022. This year, the exhibition is showing in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Atlanta, Berlin, London, Beijing, and Holon. On TripAdvisor, Van Gogh: Immersive Experience is listed as 72nd out of 209 things to do in New York,11 and according to comments from Google Map, around 70% of visitors highly recommended the exhibition and said it is worth seeing.12 

Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience in Philadelphia is located in the Tower Theater, S. 69th St. & Ludlow St in Upper Darby. Opening hours are on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 am to 7 pm; Saturday and Sunday from 9 am-9 pm, through Nov. 28. The ticket is $34.90 for adults and $19.90 for children, with free entry for children under 4. The visit will take around 60 to 75 minutes.13