Art

Stepping into Art: A Review of Beyond Van Gogh

Remember when you were a kid, putting a kaleidoscope to your eye, twisting it to get the visual overload of swirling colors and patterns? Imagine if you could walk through that kaleidoscope! Through the use of cutting-edge projection technology and an original score, Beyond Van Gogh breathes new life into over 300 of Vincent Van Gogh’s artworks.

Entering the exhibit, the first room is full of Baroque paintings to get you in the appreciation zone for beautiful artworks by various artists. The second room has a string of many large canvases with colorful splashes serving as the backdrop for a sampling of Van Gogh’s many messages to his younger brother, Theo, giving us some insight into who the painter was. The brothers were very close and it didn’t hurt that Theo was an art dealer who got Vincent on the artist map. 

From here you exit into the Waterfall Room for a visual explosion of changing color, mesmerizing you for five minutes. If you choose to stay here for the full rotation, you will see five different images of Van Gogh cascading down the wall, dripping onto the floor and washing toward you amongst all the other melding colors. Imagine if he were alive today to see this spectacle!

Next you enter the main room of the experience, showing many of Van Gogh’s most popular works. They remain stationary for a bit so you can see them in their full splendor, although you may catch a portrait winking if you don’t look away! You continue watching as images larger than the walls they’re cast on roll across the room like a giant wave of changing color and imagery (If you are prone to motion sickness or vertigo, you may want to close your eyes during these times or take a motion sickness pill prior to arrival). The entire rotation here takes about 37 minutes, and you might want to plan to watch it twice. There’s so much going on, if you blink you might miss something!

There is limited seating, but you might even choose to lie on the floor to further immerse yourself in the flood of visuals. Of course there’s a neat gift shop that you will walk through as you exit. Grab a sweatshirt with sunflowers on it, or perhaps a framed image of a skeleton smoking a cigarette. 

One could argue that viewing these images larger than life defeats the purpose of seeing them the way they were meant to be seen. We see a realm of impressionism, minus the revelation of how the artist transitioned into this style of painting. It might have been nice to see smaller replicas of the original artworks for comparison. However, that isn’t the purpose of the immersive experience. Comprised of over four trillion content pixels, this high-resolution portrayal of Van Gogh’s work gives you the opportunity to literally immerse yourself into his paintings like never before.

This exciting new way of experiencing Van Gogh’s artwork is currently traveling the world, and we are fortunate to welcome the attraction for several weeks at the Providence Convention Center. Occupying over 30,000 sq ft, Beyond Van Gogh is the largest immersive experience in the country, offering guests plenty of room to safely enjoy the exhibit. 

It takes about one hour to walk through the exhibit, which runs through July 8. For more information, visit VanGoghProvidence.com or call 1-800-441-0819. 

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