NYCOTC was one of the first to step through the doors and into – literally – his paintings. It is mesmerizing, magical and unforgettable.
Digital animations of Van Gogh’s works, including The Potato Eaters, Starry Night, Sunflowers, The Bedroom and his self-portraits come alive on the 30-foot walls and on the floors of the exhibit – er – experience.
It merges art and cutting-edge technology in a completely new way.
NYC on the Cheap is the only NYC website exclusively about FREE and inexpensive things to do – no more than $25 – in the greatest city on the planet, but sometimes you have to splurge.
Tickets for this remarkable visit with Van Gogh are $33. More for a VIP pass that includes a cushion for sitting on the benches you can move to whatever spot you like, to sit as long as you like.
What you will experience includes –
Candles flicker, stars twinkle, flowers bloom, windmills turn, trees grow, faces morph into flowers, flowers morph into faces, the sun rises and then tracks vertically around the room, as other images from his paintings fade in and out.
I followed the sun around the room, watching the people watching the images.
I watched pieces of his famous bedroom come together to form his famous painting, and the sunflowers from another iconic painting sprout around me.
I experienced a black floor suddenly bursting into flower and become an extension of the flowers on the wall, and I am – you are – in the middle of it – part of it.
There are four large rooms, each playing the same 35-minute video loop.
You can walk freely from one to the other, and back again, for an ever-changing perspective, and watch the “show” again in a different room, as I did.
The perspectives change, since each room has different mirrored sculptures, which reflect the digital animations, adding yet another dimension.
One room has a circle of tall, clear glass obelisks, another has bubble-shaped reflective globes, and another has angled mirrors. All invite exploration, and watching the video one more time.
There are benches, which you can move to wherever you want and sit as long as you want to watch the swirling colors take shape around you. Large rings on the floor mark the spots where you can sit, socially distanced, and without blocking the folks behind you. Some people just sit on the floor.
It’s all set to surround-sound music. The music is mostly classical, some familiar, some not, including some commissioned just for the exhibit.
I was moved to tears when Edith Piaf’s iconic Non, Je ne Regrette Rien soared into my eardrums, surrounded by Van Gogh’s paintings coming alive digitally, knowing the personal pain and suffering of the artist who produced some of the world’s most beloved paintings.
You are greeted by a 30-foot tall digital image of Van Gogh’s most famous self-portrait. Expect to line up here for a selfie.
QR codes provide guides to his life and development as an artist, the importance of Impressionism, and more.
One fun little section lets you change the brush strokes on a painting by pointing your QR-enabled phone at it.
There’s a huge selection of Van Gogh merchandise, including face masks, water bottles, umbrellas, tote bags and hats in Starry Night, Sunflower and other patterns. Plus high-end collectibles including fine china.
Van Gogh Experience – Location and Ticket Info
It’s located at Pier 36 on the East River, between Clinton St. and Rutgers St. It’s not easy to get to.
The nearest subway stops are East Broadway or Delancey/Essex on the F, and then a five-minute walk to the pier.
Tickets start at $36. The $54 VIP ticket includes skip-the-line perks and a free loaner of a seat cushion for the benches, or curling up on the floor. There also are family packages.
There is timed admission, but once inside you can stay as long as you like. Most people stay between 60-90 minutes, including shopping the logo items.