Toronto Van Gogh Exhibit Pivots To Become A Drive-In Art Show

The multimedia art exhibit originally scheduled to open May 1 is adapting to meet the physical distancing and health guidelines with its Gogh by Car screening.


Credit: Wikimedia Commons.


A large-scale digital art exhibit featuring the work of Vincent Van Gogh announced it will open in Toronto next month. But don’t walk there – visitors will have to come by car and stay inside their vehicle. The original and enormous immersive art show will only be able to open at the end of July at the earliest, so a temporary drive-in option called Gogh By Car is scheduled before then.

The familiar, trippy and swirled starry night by Vincent Van Gogh was originally planned to be laid out at the feet of tourists starting May 1. Now, it will be projected beneath your vehicle’s tires. Visitors of the new Immersive Van Gogh Exhibition to be launched in Toronto on June 18 will be able to drive through the oil and pastel landscapes and watch a projected show, as the organizers adapt to the physical distancing and health guidelines related to COVID-19.

The Dutch post-Impressionist artist’s works will be brought to life through sound, light and projections in the former Toronto Star newspaper printing plant that was left vacant since 1992. Some works that will be included in the show are Starry Night, Sunflowers and The Potato Eaters.

The project is described as a “stunning projection animating the masters’ oeuvre and illuminating the mind of the genius.”

“Wander through giant projections that highlight brushstroke, detail, and colour as you have never experienced them,” says the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibition website. It is a Lighthouse Immersive creation. The exhibit was designed by creative director and Italian film producer Massimiliano Siccardi and features music by composer Luca Longobardi.

They worked together previously on the Atelier des Lumières, another immersive Van Gogh art show that was shown in Paris. It had over two million visitors, according to its website.

This isn’t the first multimedia or immersive exhibit featuring the works of Van Gogh – but it will be huge. The show will measure over 4,000 square feet. While the original concept would have permitted 700 people to walk about at any given time. Now, as a drive-in art exhibit, 14 vehicles will be able to enter at a time. Guests will park and watch a 35-minute show from within their vehicles.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.


Van Gogh is certainly trending lately.

Besides the Atelier des Lumieres show held in Paris last year, another immersive exhibit ran in Brussels.

The Dutch painter’s life and work have also been re-explored in recent years by film directors, art historians and even comedians.

The 2018 film At Eternity’s Gate starring Willem Dafoe dramatized Van Gogh’s life. A year earlier, there was a 2017 animated biography called Loving Vincent.

Additionally, comedian Hannah Gadsby’s 2018 Netflix special Nanette put the spotlight on Van Gogh’s mental health issues with some art history facts. His epilepsy medication was made with a derivative of the foxglove flower and one of the side effects of taking too much foxglove is experiencing the colour yellow with intensity.

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Gift of Adele R. Levy, 1958)


The upcoming Toronto Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit also seeks to bridge that gap between the notion of artistic genius and tortured artist. It juxtaposes a historically industrial space with the “magic” of digital beauty and art.

“Experience the organic landscapes of Van Gogh’s imagination, and ride the rollercoaster of Van Gogh’s brilliance and madness,” says the website.

“It is astonishing in scale, breathtakingly imaginative, and a completely new look at the master’s work.”

Tickets for the show went on sale for the original concept show on February 7, starting at $35. The temporary drive-in version starting in June will run you $100 per two-person car. You can find out more details about the exhibit at vangoghexhibit.ca.


This article has been updated with new information about the show after the creators announced their intent to move forward with a drive-in version.