Van Gogh is coming to Augusta. Are you ready to immerse yourself in 300 of the artist's works?May 3, 20223 min read
Beyond Van Gogh — The Immersive Experience is coming to Augusta later this month. The exhibit has been getting rave reviews and has wowed more than 5 million art lovers interested in the famous Dutch painter since it began touring in 2017.
It has been named 2021's best immersive experience by USA Today and was ranked among the 12 best immersive experiences in the world by CNN.
But before it arrives, hear from Scott Thorp, chair of the Augusta University Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Department of Art and Design, for an expert's perspective before the exhibit opens locally.
Why do you think an exhibit like this has exceeded expectations nationwide for those who've come to see it?
I believe these types of exhibitions exceed expectations because they are so stimulating. They include a new type of interactive media that entirely surrounds the viewer. You are more of a participant than a viewer in these situations. It’s like Disney is coming to your hometown.
People are used to craning their necks to view static art on a wall. With this, you have to keep looking around to ensure you are getting everything. The technology here is relatively novel. Plus, it’s all around you.
Sometimes museums feel intimidating, stuffy, or exclusive, so not everyone feels comfortable in those environments. However, blockbuster shows for Van Gogh or Monet have historically done exceptionally well. I look back to an exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 2003 as a precursor to exhibits that use the work of established artists to create new and interesting environments. A sculptor named Seward Johnson exhibited his sculptural interpretations of impressionist paintings at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. It was called “Beyond the Frame.” And it was a huge success. You could walk into Van Gogh’s bedroom or Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party.”
Do you think we'll see more exhibits like this in the future with other artists?
Yes, this is only the beginning. There are several companies like Meow Wolf that do this all the time. Meow Wolf started back in 2008 and has been creating all kinds of engaging, high-tech installations. This will spread to more permanent venues such as the Illuminarium in Atlanta. The Illuminarium currently has a Georgia O’Keefe exhibition up.
Could you see permanent exhibits like this in museums to give visitors a unique experience?
I actually see these popping up all over the place. As they move forward, I’m sure artists will use this medium as their own. So it won’t be just about an artist of the past; the experience will be the actual work of contemporary artists.
One thing that’s also interesting is there are applications for interactive spaces in many fields. Augusta University has an interactive wall in radiology.
Thorp is also associate vice president for research at Augusta University and has worked for more than a decade as an exhibiting artist.
His research interests include user-centered design, design thinking, and the psychology of creativity.
Scott is available to speak about Beyond Van Gogh — The Immersive Experience. Simply click on his icon now to arrange an interview today.
Scott Thorp Associate Vice President for Research / Chair, Depart of Art and Design
At Augusta University, Scott Thorp seeks to create a creative community around a nationally ranked art and design department.