The Philadelphia Van Gogh Immersive Experience
How I found out about this event
On October 14th, 2021, I had the opportunity to attend the Van Gogh Immersive Experience at The Tower Theatre in Philadelphia, PA. The experience was going to be in Philly for a limited time, so I knew I had to attend. No one else could or wanted to attend with me, so I went to this event solo.
Technically speaking, the location of the Philly Van Gogh Immersive Experience was actually in Upper Darby, which is located in Delaware County. Meaning, that the event is not in Philadelphia, if you want to get technical. I just don’t want to confuse anyone who would like to attend the experience.
But I digress. When I saw this event being advertised all throughout my Facebook page, I knew I had to attend. I’m not an expert in art but I do enjoy learning about art and admiring past artists’ works. Van Gogh is no different and I’ve always admired his work and life. It made sense to go to the Van Gogh Immersive Experience, right?
Plus, this event advertised it to be an “immersive” experience. That’s something I don’t often come across with events like this. I saw the images and short videos on Facebook of how the immersive event is supposed to be but I knew I wanted to see it for myself, first hand.
The cost of a VIP Ticket
With that, I went onto Fever and purchased my ticket for $67.40. The ticket type I purchased was the VIP ticket which included:
- the exhibition
- VR Experience – they give you a different colored wrist band to show that it’s been paid for already
- you got to skip the entrance line
- and a poster of your choice
Not bad, I’d say but a bit on the pricey side. However, the standard tickets are about $50 which is cheaper than the VIP ticket but still expensive. Despite the ticket prices, you’re paying for the immersive experience, so it’s worth the price.
Once you make it through the line, you’re greeted by a 3D visual of Van Gogh’s face. Within that, you see beautiful visuals of his artwork, shifting and molding into different shapes and other works. A lovely woman talks to you about the exhibition, what to expect, and how you are able to buy alcoholic beverages and drink them in the gallery.
It truly was a lovely entrance not only into the exhibition but also to Van Gogh. I highly recommend you check out the mini vlog I made on this experience so you can see how wonderful it was.
I walked down the hall to the beginning of the gallery where it detailed Van Gogh’s early life and some of his early work. It’s a smaller space and can get a bit cramped when there’s a lot of people. But it was intriguing to read a bit more about his early life.
From there, you continue down the hallway into a bigger gallery where you see more 3D visuals of his artwork, and the typical 2D artwork he’s known for. Of course, you see paintings like The Starry Night, Wheat field with Crows, Sunflowers, and more. Under each painting, there’s information on the artwork and Van Gogh. What truly set this gallery apart from other galleries was the incorporation of 3D paintings. They were scattered here and there throughout the place, bringing some of Gogh’s artwork to life.
It just gives you this cool, new perspective on his art. There’s something about seeing a painting come to life with movement and beautiful flow, there’s nothing like it. I continued to walk and admire the artwork around me, as well as the 3D paintings here and there.
The Immersive Experience
Finally, after you make your way through the gallery, you come into this wide open space willed with bean bags, benches, and chairs. There’s a lot of people just sitting and marveling at the walls. If you’ve ever seen the advertisement for the Immersive Experience, this is the scene you’ve mostly likely seen.
Displayed on every inch of the walls is Van Gogh’s artwork. Each painting takes shape, a life of its own, and comes to life. The stars in Van Gogh’s Starry Night come to life and move on the walls. His other works, such as the wheat fields, come to life as well. You can see the wheat swaying in the wind, as if you’re out in the middle of a farm on a sunny day.
This section is truly mesmerizing and peaceful. I must’ve stayed there for about 45 minutes just staring at the walls, watching each piece of art come to life in all it’s 3D glory and transform into other artwork. If you purchased a drink earlier, just take your drink, sit on a bean bag, and enjoy the display.
You can literally spend all day there. Well, at least I can. I pretty much stayed for every single display of art and transition. I missed nothing. When the walls started with the first image I saw, I got up and left as it was going to repeat the whole sequence again. I honestly thought that was the end of the experience but I was wrong.
The VR Experience
After you exit the immersive experience, you walk down this hallway and come into a room with a bit more Van Gogh art. This time, there are tables there with papers and crayons. I wondered what those were for and what are we supposed to do in there. Basically, if you want, you can pick a Van Gogh painting and color it in yourself. I did this because, might as well as its part of the experience, right?
When I was done coloring my painting, I waited on line for the VR (virtual reality) experience. With the VIP ticket, the VR experience was already included because you essentially pay for the ticket in advance. If you got the standard ticket, you can still do the VR experience but you have to pay $5 when you get towards the end of the immersive experience.
All I had to do was wait for an available VR headset. Once one became available, the staff person showed me to the seat. He told me to put on this protective eye set first, then to put the VR headset on. You’re surrounded by other people in this tiny room that’s U shaped.
I put the headset on and the visuals started playing. Basically, the VR experience takes you through several of Van Gogh’s paintings he made throughout his life. However, the twist is that it’s like a story. You’re being told a story. Gogh’s paintings are arranged in such a way to make it seem like a story, his story to be exact. The cool thing is that with the headset on, you’re walking through Van Gogh’s paintings and everything seems so real.
For example, in Van Gogh’s wheat field painting, the VR set has you walking through the field. You look to your left and right, and can see the farmers tending to the wheat. It makes the artwork more immersive, because not only are you walking and experiencing life like visuals, but you’re witnessing little backstories to some of these paintings. It’s hard to describe it, it’s something you have to experience yourself at least once.
The whole VR experience lasted about 10 minutes. Once you were done, you exited the experience into the gift shop. From there, you can exit the theatre.
Overall, this was a fun and different experience. I enjoyed my time exploring the exhibition and the immersive experiences. Even though I went to this by myself, I still had a great time. If you go with your significant other, friends, family, or children, I believe it’s something that everyone of all ages can enjoy.
Head over to the Fever app to check out the tickets and see which Van Gogh Immersive Experience is closest to you!