It doesn’t happen often, thankfully. Usually I am at least content with my adventures, but this one was a no go, well, a no Van Gogh, for the record. The village (my inner circle of gal pals) and I went to the Philly showing of Fever‘s Van Gogh immersive exhibit at the Tower Theatre. We tried to get tickets for the event for August and ended up going in November because of the popularity of the event. Our time came and off we trotted.
We encountered some obstacles on the way to the event. The Tower is in an area that is congested and parking was not easy. We were lucky to get on street parking next to the pawn shop that has the papal chair for the Pope’s Philadelphia visit on display in the front window. Yes, that was there and we all had to stop to look at it after Van Gogh. We went and I didn’t connect with the fact that my NY Covid Safe app was on my old phone. They wouldn’t let me in without the Covid card. I tried to download the app and login but it didn’t transfer the information from the app on my old phone, Luckily I remembered that I had gotten the vaccines at the local hospital and had it on my mobile chart. Unfortunately, that was the most exciting part of the event.
We walked past a wall of information about Van Gogh’s life. We noticed that people were piled in front of and that it wasn’t necessarily a tour that you had to follow but a self-guided trip through the exhibition. We briefly glossed through the intro and walked past a huge lighted sculpture of Van Gogh’s head which was the most interesting part of the show. I was not the only one that was disappointed and we were on the same page as far as what we found lacking. No, we are not arts snobs, however, we like a good experience.
The first encounter was the art gallery. There were dioramas of some Van Gogh highlights which were unique. The pictures that hung on the wall were made of a wood frame with a thin fabric stretched over. The artwork was printed on the fabric. It looked very cheap and I felt that the canvas prints I order from Shutterfly of my kids were of better quality. Given the amount of money they are taking in for this event, I would’ve expected a better quality of Van Gogh prints. Yes, I know this is an expense that they would have to occur but it is also an expense that hangs on the wall day in and day out and it’s a one time purchase, for the most part. The light was direct and harsh and didn’t really highlight the pieces but cast a jarring and severe spotlight that any interrogation room would envy.
Animating Van Gogh’s art reduced it to a cartoon and in some cases a farce The show runs on a 35 minute loop with soothing music which was unfortunately interspersed with random storm sounds . The room was nicely setup with chairs, benches, and places to sit in repose and enjoy the immersion room. The wall had a thin fabric that allowed the video to be displayed so that there were no structural protrusions clouding the show. At first, I was struck with the massive display of Van Gogh’s work and then I began to look at the individual pieces and was less than impressed. I felt that it was gimmicky and depreciated the quality of Van Gogh’s art. There were crabs and bugs crawling around some of the pieces, pieces were cut into moving flaps, and then there was the morphing of Van Gogh’s face. It reduced the film to a an ordinary screensaver. I almost hate to post the videos because they make the installation look better than they did live.
After the immersion exhibit, there is coloring room, a gift shop, and an optional VR experience, which costs an extra $5. There was an area with a bar that sold Van Gogh-themed cocktails for $10 to $15, beer for $6 to $8, and wine was $11 a glass (white only). There is no red wine available due to the staining factor. There was a coloring room where kids can draw what they saw and I found that very enlightening. This was a great exhibit for people with children. Just because I didn’t like it, doesn’t mean I didn’t see value in exposing children to art in a unique way.
One of the question that Fever asks is: Have you ever dreamt of stepping into a painting? Sure, but I didn’t with this exhibit. It’s an observational event. I felt like a viewer more than an active participant. The lighting was problematic in that the main room felt a little dark and gloomy while the gallery was overlit. I just felt that more energy could have been spent honoring Van Gogh.
The Event is running again From February to May and here is the information from Fever. You can purchase tickets here.
📅 Date: February – May, 2022
🕒 Opening hours (time slots available every half hour):
-Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday: 10am–7pm
– Saturday, Sunday & holidays: 9am–8pm
⏳ Duration: The visit will take around 60 to 75 minutes
👤 Age requirement: All ages! Free entry for children under 4 years old
📍 Location: The Tower Theatre.
🎫 Standard Access – includes entry to the exhibition:
- Adult: Midweek tickets for adults are $39.90 during the day and $44.90 after 5 p.m. Tickets are $49.90 all day on the weekends
- Child (4 to 12): tickets are $24.90 midweek and 27.90 on the weekends
- Family Pass: 2 adults + 2 kids
- Additional Child: For Family Pass: range from $101.60 to $124.80, depending on timing
- Senior (65+), Student (13 to 26), or Military: Senior citizens, students aged 13 to 26, or members of the military are $29.90 to $31.90 midweek and $34.90 on weekends
- Kids under four are free
- *For Standard Access only ticket holders, entry to the VR experience can be purchased separately on site. The VR experience is a $5 add-on
🎫 VIP Access – includes entry to the exhibition, entry to the VR experience* with skip-the-line, and a poster of your choice: VIP packages range from $42.40 to $72.40 per person, depending on the time of day and whether its during a weekday or weekend showing.
- VIP Adult
- VIP Child (4 to 12)