Immersive Van Gogh creates an innovative and enchanting new digital art experience

The exhibit has four different rooms of varying sizes and ceiling heights, plus a balcony overlooking the largest room. Kaylie Slack

Enchanting and impassioned, a new exhibit allows viewers to step inside the work of one of the world’s greatest artists, Vincent Van Gogh. The exhibit, full of bright and colorful art projections, will prove magical for all who enter.

The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit Chicago, a walk-through digital art installation, opened Thursday, Feb. 11 at the Lighthouse ArtSpace Chicago, 108 W. Germania Place.

The exhibit first premiered in Toronto in July 2020 and was inspired by the Van Gogh digital art exhibition in Paris in 2018. Since then, the installation has been adapted to fit a North American audience.

The Chicago exhibit maintains the same Italian creative team who spearheaded the digital art movement in Paris, with new custom designs to fit the Neoclassical architecture of the American installation space.

Van Gogh’s “Almond Blossoms” is projected onto the main room of the exhibit, creating a stunning view from the overarching balcony. Kaylie Slack
Ticket prices start at $39.99 for adults and $24.99 for children 16 or younger. Tickets can be bought at Kaylie Slack

After stepping through heavy white curtains, viewers are immediately surrounded by Van Gogh’s famous paintings including “Self Portrait with a Felt Hat” and “The Starry Night” projected on the walls and floors. Triangular mirrors line the center of each room while celestial music by Italian multimedia composer Luca Longobardi pumps through the speakers. The open space shifts from black and white to bright yellow.

While the Toronto exhibit debuted in a warehouse-like building, the Chicago installation is in a more museum-like location, at the recently renovated Germania Club Building.

The three-story facility features balconies, 35-foot-tall walls and Victorian-era architecture. As well as meeting the technical requirements needed for the installation, the building was also chosen for its great neighborhood, various levels and unique angles from which to view the show.

Preparation for the physical exhibit has taken three months, with installment taking 30 days and a team of about 25 people working around the clock to get the space ready for the premiere. Kaylie Slack

A 33-minute loop of light, music, art, movement and animation surrounds attendees as they move from room to room taking in continuous content. Walking around the exhibit allows for differing perspectives, from mirrored reflections to a towering balcony.

Maria Shclover, co-producer of the Chicago exhibit, first learned of immersive art experiences when she was traveling around Paris and visited the Van Gogh experience at L’Atelier des Lumières.

After falling in love with the digital art genre, Shclover began inquiring about how to bring the exhibit to the U.S. Chicago was chosen as the launch city due to its artistic nature.

“People [in Chicago] are very friendly toward the arts,” Shclover said. “Chicago was our number-one choice.”

Static images of Van Gogh’s paintings are shown at a behind-the-scenes tour on Jan. 28, which allowed media to witness the construction process. Kaylie Slack
Immersive Van Gogh features an exhibit gift shop that offers merchandise ranging from apparel and home décor to jewelry and books. Kaylie Slack

With more than 14 miles of cable, 70 projectors, 500,000 cubic feet of projection and 90 million pixels used to put the installation together, creating the immersive experience has been no small feat.

As mesmerizing images swirl around the viewer, the experience left many attendees sitting against the walls and letting the projections fall over them, just like people may have seen in Netflix’s “Emily in Paris.”

But the projected paintings are not all the experience has to offer. Immersive Van Gogh also features a gift shop, a grab-and-go café and future plans to include live performances.

Immersive Van Gogh has extended its dates due to high demand and will run through Labor Day. Shclover plans on the space becoming a staple for immersive art in Chicago.

Triangular mirrors are featured in the two larger rooms of the exhibit and allow for unique angles to view the show from—and for mirror selfies. Kaylie Slack
Digital circles are projected on the floors of the venue to promote social distancing. Additional COVID-19 precautions include hand sanitizer stations, touchless ticket-taking and temperature checks upon arrival. Kaylie Slack

Van Gogh was chosen as the first artist to be represented in this exhibition space not only for his legendary status as a post-Impressionist, but for the emotional and impassioned nature of his paintings.

Shclover hopes people will be moved by the experience and encouraged to go to museums and see Van Gogh’s paintings in the flesh.

“His artworks are so inspiring, bright and beautiful,” Shclover said. “[The projections] create a different way of looking at the art. It’s an emotional experience. It’s merging different technology, music, animation and storytelling.”

Immersive Van Gogh is currently offering an Artist-in-Residence program for young and local artists. Interested applicants should email with the subject “Artist-in-Residence” and portfolio attached.