Beyond Van Gogh is named Best Immersive Art Experience in Florida


“A screensaver.” That’s what someone called Beyond Van Gogh in a review we’re confident Van Gogh himself would have scoffed at. True artists and art connoisseurs pushing the boundaries of their era through sincerity, toil and strife, have enough respect not to judge the impassioned work of others in such dismissive tones.

Beyond Van Gogh a screensaver? We absolutely disagree.

Beyond Van Gogh is a new art, requiring the artistic capabilities of today’s artists. Beyond Van Gogh is modern, technical, and beautiful art integrated with and layered upon art from one of the greatest artists to ever live.

An early morning yoga class at the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit in Sarasota
An early morning yoga class at the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit in Sarasota

It took several teams of artists from around the world over many years, and many audio visual and exhibit design experts with an artistic edge to present and build Beyond Van Gogh in Sarasota. And we’re glad they did. We sincerely wish the exhibit would stay around longer. They’re only open another 11 days.

Waiting outside as the Florida morning sun warmed then sizzled the parking lot upon which we stood, we could not be sure if we were more excited for the doors to open so we could jump into an air conditioned space or for the chance to experience Van Gogh like never before.

Patrons enjoy the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit in Sarasota
Patrons enjoy the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit in Sarasota

The promise from Beyond Van Gogh’s website and marketing material was to provide everyone with a unique, immersive experience as the exhibit essentially dropped us into hundreds of Van Gogh’s paintings, recreated and brought to life with the next-to-perfect placement of trillions of content pixels of light and color. We can hardly write about the grandiosity and complexity of such promises without the use of several run on sentences, and so we have.

As our sweat started to pour and seep into our clothes, causing us to question whether it was a good idea to show up 25 minutes early, the doors to Beyond Van Gogh finally opened right on time.

The rush of cool, refreshing air and the starry night feel of the exhibit was an immediate invitation to imagine wildly what we were about to experience, as we walked through the entrance corridor. Would it feel like we were floating into a universe of Van Gogh? Would our sense of creativity be heightened? Would we want to lay down on the floor and take a nap? Would we ever want to leave?

A child's silhouette against the backdrop of the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit in Sarasota
A child’s silhouette against the backdrop of the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit in Sarasota

90-minutes later and the answers to our above questions were “Yes, yes, yes, and no, not at all, we really want to stay inside Van Gogh’s paintings. Is there a home version we can bring back and install so we’ll never be without the infinite fullness of this enveloping feeling of love, light, art, color, and life?”

There was so much to the experience it would be unfair for us to attempt to write much more about it. Yet here we are, because Life & News loved the exhibit so much we decided to name Beyond Van Gogh the Best Immersive Art Experience in Florida. And though we wanted to experience Beyond Van Gogh without any disruptions, our purpose as journalists required a break from the art itself to interview a few very kindhearted patrons.

Here is what they had to say.

“I liked the entrance of the exhibit, teaching us about the beginning of Van Gogh’s relationship with his brother and the parts of his life that contributed to his art and his emotional health. And to come into the main exhibit was just a wonderful experience, and the use of its color, shapes, and form is unique for those who are interested in art.” Kathy Metzler from Palmetto, Florida.

The first room at the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit in Sarasota
The first room at the Beyond Van Gogh exhibit in Sarasota

“Our daughter came to the exhibit so we thought we would try it. The size of the displays, the fact that it is all around you, and the music is a unique experience. We love it. It’s amazing to us that Van Gogh can put paint on the canvas in this way and have the genius to bring it to life. It is overwhelming because you think about how long ago these were painted and people are still so much into them. It evokes a feeling of movement and a little bit of chaos. The immersive feeling and large size allows you to see everything. This way you get that up close and personal experience, especially when it is all the way around you.” Toni and Paul Varner from North Fort Myers.

Many very special thank-yous go to Beyond Van Gogh’s general manager, Julie Parkinson (who herself is an incredibly friendly and talented artist and curator), the exhibit’s lead technician Brandon McCoy, and Beyond Van Gogh’s Publicist Bailey Floyd for educating us on all that is Beyond Van Gogh.

Yoga instructor Kelly Williams stretches after her morning yoga class at Beyond Van Gogh in Sarasota
Yoga instructor Kelly Williams stretches after her yoga class at Beyond Van Gogh

A big thank you also goes to Yoga Instructor Kelly Williams (yes, if you were lucky enough to catch Saturday Morning Yoga at Beyond Van Gogh, there is nothing more surreal and deeply relaxing than doing yoga while inside an immersive tour of Van Gogh’s paintings).

Without further ado, we present our three-minute video to wet your artistic tastebuds and encourage you to find the nearest Beyond Van Gogh exhibit (should you be so lucky to be within one or two hundred miles of one) and prepare to stay as long as they’ll let you.

Beyond Van Gogh is 21st century immersive art made possible by a team of extremely talented artists. The exhibit is an exquisitely detailed multi-dimensional presentation of Van Gogh as an artist within and amidst the timeless art he created.

We certainly hope the creators of Beyond Van Gogh will come back to Sarasota again and again with Beyond Van Gogh, Beyond Monet, any and all other artfully developed immersive experiences and… beyond.

Beyond Van Gogh in Sarasota is located at the Starry Night Pavilion at University Town Center.