BEYOND VAN GOGH… my experience.

This page – Beyond Van Gogh – is full of information about our experience seeing this exhibit. Since it’s been almost two years of Covid shut ins, in lock downs and with many stay at home orders finally an important family event had forced us out of our Covid comfort zone at home to embark on a visit to another city. The Beyond Van Gogh presentation was also taking place in that same city. Since we had to visit there anyway, we decided – with a certain level of trepidation – to take in the Vincent Van Gogh presentation while there. And we did. This is the report.

A taste of the Beyond Van Gogh final display to start the page.

A brief glance at part of the Beyond Van Gogh experience.

A brief glance at part of the Beyond Van Gogh experience.

We were in the exhibition for quite a while before we got to see what was seen in the presentation hall shown in the image above.

Before I provide bit more of the dazzling content found there later on in this page, I thought it might be useful to know about the process of getting into the exhibit in our city. The venue for the exhibit near you will dictate the shape and size of the exhibit there, I expect it will be similar in all.

Beyond Van Gogh hall – Ottawa, Ontario.

Our hall was a refurbished older farm display building called the Aberdeen Pavilion located in Landsdowne Park.  This hall is BIG for an art exhibit I think! The walls felt about 6 metres (16′ or so) high and stretch for 25 metres (75′ or so) along each side.

Above the walls the entire ceiling/roof was draped in black and was not entirely successful in eliminating stray light from the daylight outside from  interfering with the professional lighting within. Some external light snuck in through small cracks, but by and large their effort was reasonably effective.

Beyond Van Gogh admission details.

Our tickets displayed a time-slot for our visit. We were asked to be there 10 minutes early. I found that there was no benefit to being there much earlier than that 10 minutes as the access to the exhibition is controlled by the ticket time, and that time slot is eastablished to allow in a specific sized cohort of around 20 persons per slot. In fact, if you are a minute or two late, you’ll may be able to go right in rather than waiting in line with your cohort, all of whom are in fairly close, fully masked proximity. Our wait was outdoors and though the sky did threaten rain, it didn’t happen.

Don’t be too late though, as you’ll be even more rushed going through, and most likely will want as much time as needed for full appreciation.

Inside the hall.

Those that need to use the W.C. first will find it inside the hall  (I would think, again depending on the venue) and to be accessible before entering the exhibit. Those of us of a certain age may find that info useful. For those with hampered vision, know too that there were no barriers of any kind except for those purposefully placed between the rows and exhibits. All areas seemed wheelchair accessible, once again, referring only to the hall in Ottawa, Ontario. Those not comfortable with walking or standing for longer periods of time might consider bringing a wheelchair.

As each cohort enters the hall, they will find the ambient lighting is turned way, way down.  Though it’s dark as you enter the actual display hall, your eyes quickly adjust. I expect the purpose of this is to ready your vision to be impacted by the light and colour to come and that works.

Scenes from the Beyond Van Gogh experience.

Alleyways between the rows of art & text. Photo:

Our cohort of visitors is lead, via display barriers, to a series of rows within the building, as you can see in the photo above.

Visibility was now quite good.

In the photo above can be seen the adjacent row, of a number of rows, too. Members of our cohort had already rounded the corner and were on their way along the adjacent row.

We wander along the rows thoroughly enjoying the amazing works of art of Vincent Van Gogh displayed, along with various quotations, comments, and prose outlining his life to this point. Please see the photo below.

Scenes from the Beyond Van Gogh experience.

Scenes from the Beyond Van Gogh experience. Photo:

The text is often superimposed on his art, electronically of course, and prose and image were sympathetic to the image content.

While the prose is clearly written in current times, and as such, could have been composed completely of whole cloth, it appeared to be a fairly accurate depiction of the times and frame of mind he was in then, as the text was often accompanied by snippets of letters written to V.V.G. by his brother, Theo. Those snippets seemed to corroborate the more complete description provided on the various boards.

There was distant music playing, easily listened to while wandering the rows, and I expected it was no coincidence that one of the works was “Starry Starry Night” which we enjoyed listening to in  live oncert with Don McLean, the song writer and first performer, years and years ago.

Row after row on Van Gogh art!

With the following cohort of visitors right on our heels, we hurried our viewing of the remaining rows.

We reached the end of the last row and found a doorway to another larger hall. A door person said, as we walked through, “This part of the presentation will take about 30 minutes”. Offering thanks for that info we entered the second hall.

What’s in the second hall of Beyond Van Gogh?

Simply… wow! A very spectacular visual and auditory display.

The video on this page is courtesy of the nice lady at (stained glass art) and is offered here with my thanks.

For about 30 minutes your eyes enjoy a feast that’s pretty hard to describe with only a small part of it shown above.

Every wall and even the floor in the pavilion is rich with moving images as the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh are exhibited, his  many different canvases, presented in huge form, morphing from one to another, seamlessly, and with appropriate music.

A few Beyond Van Gogh thoughts…

On the way in, we were very much enjoying the viewing of the paintings and the text, trying to see deeper into the image as many descriptions pointed to things in that series of paintings that they felt the artist was trying to accomplish. All of a sudden we see that the next cohort is rounding the corner and catching up to us, and we of our group enjoying a leisurely view were now under pressure to move along. And move along, we had to do! You know, in a typical gallery one would have the time to gaze at a painting, and think about it, most lacking any type of description as was offered in length and most welcome during this V.V.G. exhibition. Still, another 5-10 minutes between cohorts would have made a big difference to the enjoyment of those of use trying to absorb all info and paintings offered.

Also, I remember thinking to myself, this is a pretty expensive art gallery, as up until we got to the final hall it was just an art gallery with electronic representations of paintings, and information about them on the display screens. My final impression was that the exhibit was very enjoyable but a tad overpriced for what you got.

However, just because I’m parsimonius doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy it and feel you’ve got more than your money’s worth. Whatever the results, I recommend that you do not miss this.

If you go, enjoy.

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