Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience


January 17th, 2022

(First of all, a little side-note. Even though this is called Steph’s Saturday in the City, we did not go to New York City on a Saturday. Sophia and I decided to go on Martin Luther King’s day, which was a Monday.)

During the Fall semester, I had heard about the Van Gogh exhibit, and I have wanted to go ever since. When I looked for tickets online, it said that it was sold out until December, and the tickets were over $40… So that was a no.

Then, a few days after I got back to our apartment in Dobbs Ferry, I saw on social media that the exhibit was extended until April 2022 and I looked for tickets again. There were many time slots available throughout the whole week, and it was less than $25 for students. That no from before turned into a ‘yes, let’s go!’ right away.

So on Martin Luther King’s day, Sophia and I took the 1:14 p.m. train from Ardsley on Hudson to Marble Hill. At Marble Hill, we hopped on the 1-subway. Trust me, this route is a lot cheaper than taking the Metro-North all the way down from Ardsley on Hudson to Grand Central Station, and it is a lot more flexible since the subway gives the freedom to basically get out on every street corner.

We booked a time slot at 5:30 p.m. for the exhibit, so this gave us time to do other things in the area. Sophia and I got out at 59th Street-Columbus Circle, and we walked down on 8th Avenue. After grabbing a bagel and coffee at Pick a Bagel, we walked all the way towards Bryant Park. We did a quick Zara-run, ended up not buying anything, and made our way to Grand Central Station since we both had to use the bathroom and Sophia had to charge her phone.

Around 4:30 p.m., we started making our way to the exhibition. The 6-train led us to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall, and we took a small detour to check out Steve Flanders Square, a spot that is named after Sophia’s grandfather, an award-winning broadcast journalist who mostly covered New York and national politics for over 40 years. Proudly, she took a picture of the street sign with her grandfather’s name on it for her family, and we left for the Vincent Van Gogh exhibit, which was a 15-minute walk from Steve Flanders Square.

You see, Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch painter from the 19th century, and he has always been one of my favorite artists. I have visited the Vincent Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam many times, and every ‘Dutchie’ knows him as the painter of the sunflowers, The Starry Night, The Potato Eaters, and his self-portraits. The style he developed is known as post-impressionism, and I think his paintings are beautiful. 

His art is amazing, but he lived a very tragic life. He suffered from many mental disorders like schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder. This eventually led to Van Gogh trying to commit suicide by shooting himself in the heart. However, he missed, and he shot himself in the stomach. Van Gogh died two days after, at the age of 37. 

We spent a total of almost 2.5 hours at the exhibit, and I did not get bored once. I had already seen videos of the exhibit on social media, so I knew what it was going to look like. But this exhibition blew my mind completely. 

It was split up into four sections. The first section showed multiple copies of his paintings and it provided information on Van Gogh’s life and work. They created a room that looked exactly like his painting The Bedroom. 

The second section was located in this huge area with four big walls. It projected this 360º light and sound show. The show brought Van Gogh’s paintings to life. All of his paintings were moving, and they were stretched from the floor to the ceiling. It showed all of his work in the most creative way, and it gave you a little peek into Van Gogh’s life, his technique, and his influence. You could lay on the ground, on one of these little benches, or in one of the comfy chairs. 

When Sophia and I entered this section, I got chills all over. It took my breath away; it was absolutely stunning. I think we almost spend an hour watching that show. We could not take our eyes off of it. The music, the lighting, the virtual art, it was really impressive. 

We exited the big room, and we walked into the third section. Here, there were several tables set up where you could draw multiple of Van Gogh’s paintings. There were crayons on every table and when you finished your drawing, you could either put it on a wall next to hundreds of other drawings or take it home with you. It was the cutest thing.

Section four was right before the exit and this included virtual reality headsets. Visitors had to pay an extra $5 to do this, and Sophia and I decided not to. We were both getting hungry and we were not really sure if paying extra was worth it, but they told us that it was a 10-minute journey about ‘A day in the life of the Artist’. Visitors would get an insight into Van Gogh’s inspiration behind some of his works while walking alongside Van Gogh. 

Once we left the exhibit, we walked to the Oculus/World Trade Center. We took the 1-train again, and we got out on 23rd Street, close to the High Line. We decided to walk to the Vessel to get something to eat at Hudson Yards. We left Shake Shack an hour later, took a quick picture at the Vessel, got on the 7-train, hopped on the 1-train again at Times Square, and went back to Marble Hill to take the Metro-North train back to Ardsley on Hudson. 

However, we took the wrong train back home… The train we were on was not going to stop at Ardsley on Hudson, which was where we parked our car. So we got out at the Dobbs Ferry train station and walked all the way to Ardsley on Hudson to pick up the car. Sophia and I decided to take a shortcut by going on the trail in the complete dark, which was definitely a mistake because we both rolled our ankles. That is when Sophia’s watch showed a notification: we reached 20,000 steps. I guess another 20-minute walk could not hurt. 

By the time we got home, it was 11 p.m. and we had walked over ten miles. Not to mention, I was wearing heels the entire day, and I still do not know how my feet made it out alive, but it was all so worth it. Even though it was a little cold and windy outside, our walks in the city were great. The exhibition was by far the highlight of the day. You lose track of time when being in the city; it will never be boring. It was a perfect first day of “how to become a local in New York City”.

*There are two Vincent Van Gogh exhibits in New York City: ‘Immersive Van Gogh’ and ‘Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience’. The ‘Immersive Van Gogh’ exhibit is a lot bigger but this one ended its run in New York City, unfortunately. Even though the other exhibition is a little smaller, it is still definitely worth a visit.