Long-awaited 'Immersive Van Gogh Detroit' set to finally open Thursday

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

It's showtime for a long-awaited immersive Van Gogh experience in Detroit. Finally.

Nearly seven months after it was supposed to open but was delayed twice, angering ticket holders, "Immersive Van Gogh Detroit" kicks off Thursday inside the city's historic former Harmonie Club building on East Grand River. Tickets are sold out for the first few days but available starting May 18. It runs through Labor Day.

The exhibition, which bills itself as the "original" immersive Van Gogh experience, will feature 500,000 cubic feet of floor-to-ceiling projections of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh's most iconic paintings, including "Starry Night," "Sunflowers," and "The bedroom." It's a creation of Massimiliano Siccardi of Italy, a world-renowned master of digital art.

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"Immersive Van Gogh Detroit," produced by Lighthouse Immersive, bills itself as the original immersive Van Gogh experience. It's been put on in cities across the country.

Detroit is one of the latest stops for "Immersive Van Gogh," produced by Lighthouse Immersive. It's already opened — and is still exhibiting in some places — in more than 16 cities across the country, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Phoenix.

Producers say what makes their exhibits unique is that they specifically contour each immersive experience to the architecture of the buildings they're in. And they like to choose historic structures in each city where they exhibit. The former Harmonie Club, which opened in 1894 and is on the National Register of Historic Places, is a German social club in Detroit.

In February, producer Corey Ross told The Detroit News that he and his team, who like to keep their venues secret to build up anticipation, had several ideas in mind for Detroit's venue but they didn't work out until the Harmonie Club. 

"We were very confident that one would work out, although, for a range of reasons, each, unfortunately, turned out not to be ideal," said Ross in an email in early February. "Our goal all along has been to bring 'Immersive Van Gogh' to an architectural jewel in Detroit. The good news is we have made a long-term agreement with the venue that was our favorite from the beginning, The Harmonie Club."

In late January, Lighthouse Immersive announced the former Harmonie Club on East Grand River would be the location of "Immersive Van Gogh Detroit."

"Immersive Van Gogh Detroit" is the second immersive art exhibit since last year to showcase Van Gogh's works in Detroit but two delays, one late last October because of venue issues and another in February due to the Omicron variant, have frustrated and angered ticket-holders. The venue also was kept secret until earlier this year. 

"Beyond Van Gogh," a newer, separate immersive digital art experience featuring Van Gogh's work that was created by a Montreal production team, opened last June at the former TCF Center in downtown Detroit. Featuring floor-to-ceiling projections, visitors stepped inside Van Gogh's most beloved paintings and watched as his self-portraits blinked, petals blew in the wind and waves rippled. The exhibit also was set to music.

A contact for Lighthouse Productions USA couldn't be reached for comment this week — a media event is scheduled for May 18 — but Ross said he hopes that audiences will be pleased after the long wait.

"We have opened 16 venues in the United States, some that went on to have very successful runs, most of which continue to this day," said Ross in an email. "Journalists who have reviewed our production routinely recognize our presentation as a mesmerizing, breathtaking and groundbreaking new way of not only appreciating great art but truly being immersed in it."


'Immersive Van Gogh Detroit'

Thursday through Sept. 5 at the former Harmonie Club building, 311 East Grand River, Detroit. 

For tickets, go to www.detroitvangogh.com.