Ms. Karen had ordered tickets for the Van Gogh Exhibit online and we went in mid-August 2023. It is located at the Oro Valley Marketplace in a very large space. We got in a short line and entered a room with posters describing Van Gogh’s tragic life of mental illness and associated anguish.
His death was also tragic, self-inflicted because of an overarching sadness he could not shake. We also learned that his eyesight was not good, which was particularly odd since Van Gogh used color in the extreme. His use of deep rich blues for painting daytime skys, the golden yellows for nighttime gaslights, and of course the brilliance of his Starry Nights paintings. Van Gogh said he thought the nights were even more beautiful and brilliant than the daylight, and he captured that belief beautifully and often in his hundreds of paintings.
Many of Van Gogh’s paintings have been auctioned for more than $50 million, some as high as $80 million. And yet, he could hardly give them away while he was alive. I found that very strange indeed.
We went from room to room in awe of Van Gogh’s framed paintings on the walls. Eventually, we came to an exhibit with a room set up to be an exact replica of one of Van Gogh’s famous paintings. It was a bedroom scene from a room he rented in Paris in the late 1880s and had two chairs in which we visitors could sit and have our photograph taken as if we were sitting in a Van Gogh painting. I asked Ms. Karen to sit in the frame and I took her picture.
Then we discovered a doorway covered by curtains. Ms. Karen peered in and then asked the attendant if we could go in. We were assured that entry would be OK. Inside was a huge room filled with walls covered by animated Van Gogh paintings and dozens of people seated around the edges in slingback beach chairs. This was the Van Gogh Immersive Experience. It made us feel as though we were living inside his paintings. Truly stunning. I could have spent the entire morning there.
The scenes changed continuously. We watched as hummingbirds and butterflies flickered by and trees waived in the breezes as scene after scene passed in front of our eyes and melted into other scenes. It was mesmerizing.
After leaving the immersive experience, we entered another room where, for an extra $5 each, we partook in a truly unique virtual reality experience. An attendant fitted a headset to our heads and we were off on a real adventure through Van Gogh’s paintings, three-dimensional and continuously moving. Over bridges and through wheat fields with crows scattering as we went by. Amazing! This was our first experience with VR.
This exhibit has been touring the world since 2017 and so far over 5,000,000 visitors have enjoyed it.
Ms. Karen can share her experience with you now.
“I had heard great things about this exhibit. It had been in Phoenix last year, but it takes more than that to get me to venture to Phoenix. So when I learned that this show would be in town in August and September, I quickly snatched up the first available tickets, in order that I might convince more people to see it before it was gone again.” When we arrived there was already a line for our time slot but we were allowed in quickly. The first room was small and there were now a bunch of people all trying to read the same history boards.
HINT: Perhaps it may have been better to be a teeny bit late and forego the first wave, let everyone move to the second room and get the storyboards to yourselves. Really, this is my only complaint about this exhibit.
Each room was well represented, with shades of what was to come. I really had no idea. And whoever thought you would be allowed to set foot in Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arly and sit in a chair and get your picture taken. The rooms describing Van Gogh’s Life were very well done, but I wondered what the big fuss was. Yes, it was well done but not really astonishing.
Then we arrived in the last room as far as I could tell. There was a plain white curtain on one of the walls. Nothing on it. It could have been the back room of the exhibit for all I knew. Thankfully, a worker bee was there and I asked if we could go in. She smiled and signaled us through. OH WOW…
Now people we just standing at the door, not knowing enough to just get out of the doorway, but we made our way through. Jim on his scooter and I, preferring to stand most of the time, made our way to one corner of the room where we made ourselves comfortable to watch the show.
It does not really matter where in the show you come in as it is not linear. All the beach chairs were taken so I settled in on a bench. Some people sat on some fluffy rugs that were provided. Acuna Matata. Whatever floats your boat. ”
I don’t know. We may have been in there 30 minutes before the show cycled around and started to repeat itself. Stay as long as you like. Upon exiting, you will be offered the VR experience. It’s only $5 and worth it if you know nothing about VR. Not perfect but interesting. Then you are back in the museum store and exit. Well worth the time and more than worth the expense. $28 is a steal for this show. “
Southern Arizona Guide rates this Van Gogh Exhibit Five Saguaros … Best of the Best! Truly stunning and not to be missed. For tickets to the Van Gogh Immersive Experience, go HERE. It is in Oro Valley through September. It is entirely ADA-accessible.
Van Gogh Exhibit
Oro Valley Marketplace
Tangerine and Oracle