If You Haven't Had a Disappointing Immersive Van Gogh Experience in Cleveland Yet, The Exhibition Has Been Extended to March

click to enlarge Immersive Van Gogh in Cleveland - Erik Drost/FlickrCC
Erik Drost/FlickrCC
Immersive Van Gogh in Cleveland
There are enough Clevelanders who have yet to drop at least $39.99, before fees and parking, on the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit who are still apparently gung-ho to have a moderately to severely disappointing experience like the rest of the city that the exhibition, which had been scheduled to close up shop and take its expensive gift shop trinkets with it on Feb. 6, has been extended to March 6.

This is due to "OVERWHELMING DEMAND," according to organizers. (Capitalization theirs.)

"To date, the Cleveland engagement alone has sold over 175,000 tickets. Internationally, the tour has sold over four million tickets, securing its place as one of the most sought-after attraction on the continent," a press release crowed.

175,000 tickets, with the cheapest being $39.99.

That, friends, is at least $6,998,250. And again, that's before fees, parking, and overpriced Dollar Store items flying off the shelves in the gift shop, which seems to be the whole point of the ordeal. There's also Van Gogh yoga opportunities, date night tickets, and VIP packages. The mind swirls and boggles.

"Cleveland has the most devoted fans of the arts throughout the country," Lighthouse Immersive Producer Corey Ross said in the press release, presumably while taking a break from laughing and diving into piles of money.

But reviews from those who've plunked down hard-earned cash for the chance to spend 20-30 minutes inside have been mixed, with some saying it was a pretty average tie but way overpriced and others saying it was a complete rip-off, an utterly, hilariously bad, anger-inducing experience.

This Cleveland Reddit thread has some great comments, if you're curious what your fellow citizens think, and here's a brief review from Scene's own Sam Allard:

The "Immersive Van Gogh" exhibit turns out to be a 35-minute digital video, played across four screens on a loop, such that viewers are enclosed and enveloped by the video and can stay for as many iterations as they please. The available accommodations include a concrete floor, onto which circles have been painted polka-dot wise (seating suggestions for social distancing?) and minimalist benches. That means you can either sit in mild discomfort or else roam awkwardly through the space to check if the viewing experience is better or worse on any of the four screens. It's all more or less the same: animations of some of Van Gogh's most famous paintings set to music. Some of it is very interesting to look at! The yellows truly pop. If it were on a single screen, the video would be a titillating teaser for an actual Van Gogh exhibit at an art museum. With narration—about the artist's technique, say, or his life—it'd be a natural companion piece at said exhibit, the sort of thing that plays continuously in a dark room off to the side where patrons wander in and watch for a few minutes as they rest their legs.

As a new way to get acquainted with the post-impressionist master, it's a cool thing. But as a high-dollar, hot ticket event, it's a head-scratcher. And given the omnipresence of the marketing campaign, it can leave something of a sour taste in one's mouth. That is to say, the whole thing can feel a little scammy, or at least sullied by hyper-commercialization. What might have been a unique, family-friendly outing at a $6 or even $12 price point turns into highway robbery at $40 (off-peak) or $55 (peak), with premium packages at higher rates that include things like Immersive-Van-Gogh-branded cushions to mitigate against the built-in discomfort; even more so when you realize the "immersive" exhibit is a single warehouse room, and that the video itself is only half an hour long, and that the physical space has been designed to herd guests into a gift shop as large as the exhibit itself where dollar-store items sell at markups so high the only natural response is to suspect an error in currency conversion. 

And we're not alone. Those who've visited the exhibit in Orlando, Pittsburgh and elsewhere all agree.

Anyway, it's here til March. Maybe do something else.
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