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“Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” Is Now Open in DC

The concept gained popularity after a similar exhibit was featured on Netflix's "Emily in Paris".

Photos by Dan Swartz.

Walk among sunflowers or lay beneath the stars to the sound of modern-classical music as world-famous art is brought to life at “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience.” The digital art installation and interactive space opened at the Bryant Street development in Northeast DC’s Brentwood on Friday, becoming production company Exhibition Hub’s fifth immersive van Gogh exhibit to debut in the United States. 

The show was met by some skepticism when tickets first went on sale last March, because its location was not disclosed. Consumers were also confused about whether it was the same exhibition featured on the hit Netflix series “Emily in Paris” (it is not). But now that it’s up and running, all seems to be going smoothly. On Friday morning, dozens of people lined up before the doors opened.

“People always ask me, ‘Why go to DC? They’ve got all these free museums,'” says Exhibition Hub’s CEO Mario Iacampo. “And I always say, we’re not replacing museums. We bring in a different type of experience. If you lived in DC 50 years, you’ve seen the museums. Maybe it’s time to see something different.”

For more than an hour, visitors can surround themselves with 360-degree projections of more than 300 of Vincent van Gogh’s sketches, drawings, and paintings on 15,000-square-foot, floor-to-ceiling screens. In a drawing studio, guests can color various van Gogh masterpieces on paper, then project them on a screen. Visitors can also participate in a 10-minute, virtual-reality show that takes them through scenes inspired by paintings “The Starry Night” and “Bedroom in Arles”.  If you’re looking for van Gogh souvenirs, like a “Starry Night” yoga mat, the gift shop is filled with trinkets covered in his most popular scenes.

The first “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” opened in Naples, Italy in 2017. Exhibition Hub began planning the DC exhibit in February. The company initially promoted the spectacle as taking place at a “secret location.” Of the strategy, Iacampo says: “There’s a fun element to that. It helps with the build up.” Once the venue was announced in August, he says ticket sales picked up by 20 percent. 

Iacampo says he chose the location because of its accessibility. There’s plenty of parking in front of the building and the Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood Metro stop is about a 10-minute walk away.

Face masks are required, social distancing is encouraged, and hand sanitizer is available throughout the galleries.  A disposable eye mask is provided during the virtual reality experience to separate your head from the device, and all equipment is sanitized between uses. 

When purchasing your tickets, be sure to read the name of the event and its description carefully, given the other, similar exhibits still out there. Tickets (available online) start at $39.90 for adults, and $19.90 for children. Senior, student, and military discounts are available. 

Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience. 524 Rhode Island Ave NE. Open weekdays, 10AM–8PM, and weekends/holidays, 9AM–9PM.

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Editorial Fellow

Anne Tate, originally from Annapolis, MD, joined Washingtonian in July 2021. She is a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she studied journalism and psychology.