Opening of the Beyond Van Gogh immersive art experience in Jacksonville

You don’t need to know art history to recognize Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night.

To a new immersive art exhibition opening this week in downtown Jacksonville, you can actually step inside the famous painting and approximately 300 of the 19th-century Dutch master’s most famous works.

Beyond Van Gogh: the immersive experience opens Friday in what was once the main auditorium of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville on Beaver Street in downtown Jacksonville. The building was gutted and repurposed to house the Van Gogh show, which uses high-tech projectors to transform the 30,000 square foot venue into a whole new way to experience art.

Previous cover:Interactive Van Gogh Exhibit in Jacksonville in September

Insight:A sneak peek at the ‘Beyond Van Gogh’ immersive art exhibit in Jacksonville

Visitors will begin in an introductory room, where Van Gogh’s own words are used to introduce him. Fanny Curtat, art historian for the project, said Van Gogh is misunderstood by many art lovers, who only know him for his painting and the infamous incident where he cut part of his eye. left ear. But he also wrote hundreds of letters to his brother and patron over the course of 18 years that show the man behind the artwork, and those very words are used to introduce him to visitors to the new exhibition.

“It’s a unique case in art history because you have so much information about his life,” Curtat said last week in a phone interview from his home in Montreal. “You get that connection with him. You feel like you know him. He’s his own enemy, he’s fighting his own demons. There’s something so strong, so relatable about it. He’s a far cry from that genius crazy as he is often described as being.”

Visitors will then enter the Waterfall Room, where Curtat said people will walk against the stream of projected images to set the tone for the main immersive room. There, the walls and floors are covered with projections of 300 of Van Gogh’s most famous works, on a 35-minute loop. A total of 4 trillion pixels of content are involved in the show, bringing the artwork to life in a high-resolution 360-degree moving show.

Curtat said it takes about an hour to experience the whole thing, and tickets are sold on a timed basis to limit the number of people inside at the same time. There is no limit to how long visitors can stay, she said, and some may choose to spend more time learning about the man in the introductory room while others prefer to experience the breathtaking wonder of the immersive room.

She said you don’t have to be a Van Gogh expert to enjoy the show.

“Absolutely not,” Curtat said. “People assume that museums can be a bit crowded. Art is about connecting with people, no matter what you know about the artwork in the first place. It’s a wonderful way to connect with the artist and to discover that a 19th century artist can still be relevant to a 21st century audience.”

Van Gogh’s works are particularly well suited to a show like this, Curtat said, because many of his pieces have a sense of movement. At Beyond Van Gogh, they really move. “His paintings seem to jump off the wall,” she said. “People remember the ‘Starry Night’ movement more than anything about painting.”

One of his favorite things to do in every city the show opens is watch the kids take it. They have no idea who Van Gogh is or why he’s important to art history, but they’re just having fun at the show. The show was created during the pandemic, with everyone working remotely, so planners didn’t really know what to expect until it opened in May 2021. Once they saw how much kids l were enjoying, they knew they were onto something. “They can run, be free, just follow the light, follow the brushstrokes,” she said.

There are as many as eight versions of the show on tour at any given time and around 3.5 million people have seen it in about a year and a half. It takes place in Anchorage, Charleston, Hartford, Omaha and Reno, and will soon open in El Paso, Sacramento and McAllen, Texas. The shows are nearly identical, Curtat said, with a few tweaks depending on location. Jacksonville is the show’s third stop in Florida, after Miami and Sarasota, and comes later to Pensacola, Tallahassee and West Palm Beach.

The first two weeks of the show’s Jacksonville tour are nearly sold out. He should be in town until November 6th.

The building housing the show, along with the parking lot across the street, was purchased in June for $8.55 million by a partnership of Development of a corner lot and JWB Capital Immobilier. Plans call for the hall to be used as a regional event space after the Van Gogh show closes.

Visitors can peruse masterpieces by Vincent Van Gogh at a new temporary art exhibit in Jacksonville.

Beyond Van Gogh: the immersive experience

Friday-Nov. 6 at Immersive Art Space, 119 W. Beaver St.

10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, closed Mondays and Tuesdays

$39.99 to $59.99 for adults, $23.99 to $28.99 for ages 5 to 15, free for ages 4 and under

(800) 441-0819,

What Critics Said

“The artist’s nervous brushstrokes come to life like ocean currents. From pipe smoke, clouds, the swirling cosmos and undulating cypresses, the imagery surrounds you on all sides in the massive piece – and even flows under your feet. It’s trippy, to say the least.” – Marty Fugate, special for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

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