Art

My Review of Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience

Read this before you Gogh-Gogh.

Bev Potter
4 min readJan 9, 2022

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It looked nothing like this. (Photo: www.vangoghcleveland.com)

If your idea of a good time is paying $40 to sit on a concrete floor with 50 other people (and their roaming toddlers) in a warehouse in downtown Cleveland for 30 minutes while watching a glorified slide show set to a deafening classical soundtrack, boy, have you come to the right place.

Full disclosure: my boyfriend’s company paid for our tickets. Thank God. So we were living the high life — we even got a tiny square of foam padding to sit on since there was almost no seating provided and this isn’t an age where you want to sit shoulder to shoulder with a stranger.

My boyfriend is over six feet tall, so that foam basically met its maker when he sat on it. But it was enough for me to almost not feel my tailbone drilling through the concrete as Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings made my tonsils vibrate.

Fun facts:

Barber’s Adagio for Strings features prominently in the movie Platoon, which stars Willem Dafoe (the music plays as Dafoe’s character tragically dies). Dafoe also played Vincent Van Gogh in 2018’s At Eternity’s Gate, which snagged him an Oscar nomination, and he holds an honorary doctorate from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Finally, my boyfriend met Willem Dafoe once in a store in New York and they talked about beer.

Going to the Van Gogh Experience was like playing 6 Degrees of Willem Dafoe.

These are the kinds of thoughts I was having while my butt went numb and the woman perched on a stool manning the exit curtain swung her leg back and forth like a metronome for the entire time we were there.

I would’ve dozed off if not for the fact that I was afraid to lean back against one of the flimsy mirrored columns that had been thrown up around the space, presumably in aid of the “immersive” part of the experience. Plus I was too busy gauging how far away I was from the guy with the cough. (Everybody was masked, but still.)

This fancy slide show of Van Gogh’s major works was animated, in the sense that it moved. Why? To make you feel like you were paying $40 to do…

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Bev Potter

Legal secretary by day, insomniac by night. Ally. BA, MA. Humor, pop culture, and things that make you think. My weekly-ish newsletter is bevpotter.substack.com