A word of caution regarding the immersive Van Gogh experience. Many shows have been suddenly canceled. Check-in with the Better Business Bureau before you gogh.

I don't know anything with certainty, but seeing the stars makes me dream.

-Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh's The Starry Night is one of the world's most famous paintings. Even if you don't know anything about art, you have seen this painting represented somewhere. I've seen an original Van Gogh piece. When I stood in front of his Self-Portrait at the Detroit Institue of Arts, I was surprised at how physically small it was, yet how big its emotional impact. For me, the experience was awe-inspiring, like being in the presence of a holy relic or an icon. It is incredible that a painting made in 1887 still resonates today.

A new traveling immersive exhibit combines Vincent Van Gogh's masterful artwork with music and motion to create a unique, riveting experience. The show has been making headlines across the country and is now coming to Grand Rapids. Here's the problem: the event is making headlines because it has become notorious for abrupt, last-minute cancellations.

The allegations are only partially true.

A colleague bought tickets for the Detroit Van Gogh exhibit originally scheduled for October 2021. It was her anniversary weekend, and she planned to celebrate in style. The event was postponed on very short notice- two days before opening, too late to make alternate plans. It took several emails and a lot of persistence to finally get a refund. Her experience has been repeated from Philadelphia to Seattle, to Kansas City, and other cities across the United States. More than 100,000 tickets have been sold for a Nashville show that has been postponed since November.

Don't get too excited about buying tickets for the immersive Van Gogh experience in Grand Rapids.

The Better Business Bureau has received a ton of complaints and has figured out exactly what the problem is: there is more than one event. "Immersive Van Gogh", "Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience", "Imagine Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience", and "Van Gogh Alive" are similarly titled, yet separate events. The just-announced Grand Rapids exhibit is another new one, titled "Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience."

I'm not going to level accusations and say there are bad actors here, but at best, we have disorganized event planners who cannot bring a show to the opening curtain. Before purchasing tickets to any event, the BBB recommends

  • Buy from only trusted vendors
  • Read the ad and website carefully
  • Watch for red flags
  • Use payment methods that come with protection
  • If you are unsure, verify your tickets

Vincent Van Gogh has been gone for a long time, so there are no copyright laws being broken here, but event planners are certainly being disingenuous and capitalizing on his name and creating confusion.

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