Van Gogh Alive was first presented in Singapore in 2011 and since then it has dazzled over 8.5 million visitors across 75 cities worldwide making it the most visited immersive, multi- sensory experience in the world. It has now made its way to Edinburgh where it will stay until 17th July 2022. The event is a walk-through delight which makes use of sound, light and screens placed all around the room to bring Vincent Van Gogh and his work to life.
The exhibition begins in the Interpretative Area with some background information on Van Gogh, his work and life. There is one surprise awaiting as you wander around and that is that you can get an opportunity to take some photos in a life sized representation of ‘Van Gogh’s Bedroom’ – one of his most famous pieces of work. This makes for a nice keepsake and a fun activity for all involved. Once ready, you walk into a darkened room and you enter a whole new world. You are allowed to sit, stand and lie down wherever you wish to allow yourself to fully immerse in the experience. The audience consists of all age groups and has something on offer to suit all. The screens are broken up all over the room, images start to appear (some animated) and you feel like you are entering the artist’s mind. Van Gogh’s quotes are displayed on one of the screens, adding a sense of familiarity and narration to the images.
The show lasts around 45 minutes and plays on loop so there is no way you miss anything if you enter before or after your allocated slot. Individual visit times will vary, but most visitors can anticipate spending 60 – 90 minutes at the exhibition.
The story is told chronologically and each segment is broken up by a slide detailing dates, locations and main points about the various phases of his artistic life. You are taken on a journey through the Netherlands, Arles, Saint Rémy and Auvers-sur-Oise, where Van Gogh created many of his timeless masterpieces. Set to an evocative classical score including artists such as Claude Debussy and Erik Satie, it is a thrilling display of over 3,000 inspirational images transforming every surface that surrounds you.
The exhibition shouldn’t be compared to viewing the artist’s paintings live as it is a totally different experience, an entertaining and touching one. There is something about this display that feels more relaxing and fun than a regular museum visit. The fact that it can be enjoyed by children and adults alike definitely makes it a good family outing.
As you exit the space, you walk through a mirrored room complete with hundreds of sunflowers, a very symbolic touch. One last surprise awaits before you exit as you are invited to try to master your own painting skills in the Art Activity Area; a real highlight for all kids and adults alike. Van Gogh Alive allows the audience a further glimpse into Van Gogh’s work and mind in a completely new way making it a must-see exhibition.
With grateful thanks to Joanna Zuchowska for this review.