Home Art in Vancouver Read This Review Before Seeing Vancouver’s Imagine Van Gogh

Read This Review Before Seeing Vancouver’s Imagine Van Gogh

Imagine Van Gogh

Have you seen Imagine Van Gogh with its giant light projections of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings on the walls of the Vancouver Convention Centre yet?

If you haven’t visited the exhibition yet, you should go. We were so impressed! It was amazing! We are so glad we went!

Below are some of our thoughts and things we recommend you know if you plan to go in the future.


TIP: If you’ve been to Imagine Van Gogh and enjoyed it as much as we did, then also be sure to check out Beyond Van Gogh. It’s a similar but unrelated event happening in Surrey from February 1st until early March in 2023.


Beyond Van Gogh


If you want information about the specifics of Imagine Van Gogh, including ticket price details, see our article about the Vancouver Art Exhibition or visit the official Imagine Van Gogh website. For tips about how to prepare yourself for the exhibit, and answers to common questions, continue reading.

(Note: Near the end of this article is a video that shows in detail what the art displays look like at the Imagine Van Gogh event in Vancouver. To see the video scroll to the bottom of the page or click  Van Gogh 2021 Video.)


This article contains answers to the following questions about Imagine Van Gogh:

What Should We Expect? | Is it Worth Seeing? | How Long do People Stay? | Is the Exhibition COVID-Safe? | Which Van Gogh Art Will We See? | What Did We Like? | What Could Have Been Better?


Our Review of Imagine Van Gogh

Imagine Van Gogh is a touring art exhibition with a modern twist. It features art from the late 1800s projected on massive screens using 21st century technology. The show was in Vancouver, at the Vancouver Convention Centre, from mid-March until October 31st in 2021.

Below we describe what we expected from the exhibition, what it was really like, and what we suggest you do before your visit. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience and highly recommend it!


Answers to Questions about Imagine Van Gogh

Below are answers to seven questions people might have about the Imagine Van Gogh exhibition.


1. What Should We Expect?


Van Gogh’s art is projected onto multiple walls in a massive room. It’s fairly dark inside, with constantly changing images all around. Sometimes the images are still and sometimes they are moving. Every few seconds a completely new set of scenes appears. Classical music plays in the background.

The imagery and music are beautiful. They are cleverly and artistically put together. Don’t be surprised if you see two or more people dancing spontaneously at the event. You might even feel like waltzing yourself!

Before we went to the exhibition ourselves we expected there would be a number of large rooms with giant screens. To our surprise, there are just two rooms, and only one with images of the art. Apart from an initial area with displays full of informational text, there is only one big room where you can see Van Gogh’s art on display. The room is constantly changing though, so additional rooms aren’t needed.

The main space is wide open and massive. There are multiple walls, all of various sizes and angles. There is also a tall cube-like tower with four additional walls in the middle of the giant room. Photos of the exhibition give the illusion of different rooms with different displays. In reality, the photos are all in the same room but appearing on different walls where the images constantly change.

Images of Van Gogh’s art are projected onto all the various walls, as well as on the floor. It’s like multiple PowerPoint displays and movie screens, all coordinated in a most artistic way. In total, the exhibition fills about 25,000 square feet of space, or at least that was the case in Vancouver.


Van Gogh on Walls and Floor


Expect to See Ever-Changing Segments of the Art

Don’t expect to see any of Van Gogh’s original canvases. That’s not what this exhibition is about. Most of the art you’ll see is actually images of parts of Van Gogh’s works.

At the exhibition, occasionally you’ll see the image of an entire painting on a screen. More often than not, what you’ll see is different pieces of the same painting spread out over multiple screens. At times, every screen in the room features a different aspect of the same painting. At other moments, segments of multiple different paintings appear on the different walls.

The show works on a cycle that lasts for just over 20 minutes. During that time you’ll see images from around 200 of Van Gogh’s paintings. The image on a given wall stays up for between around 5 and 30 seconds. After about 20 minutes the cycle begins again.

Because different scenes appear on different walls, and it’s impossible to see all walls at the same time, to see everything you need to stay for at least two cycles, so for around 45 minutes. Some people stay longer than that while others stay for just one cycle. It doesn’t matter when you start – you’ll still get to see it all.


For tickets and full details about the exhibition, see the official Imagine Van Gogh website.


2. Is Imagine Van Gogh Worth Seeing?


For most people the answer is a definitive yes. It’s impressive, something you’ll remember, and highly recommended. That being said, if you don’t like Post-Impressionist art, or don’t care much for art or don’t like spending money to see it, then you might not see value in attending. For the vast majority of the population though, it’s a must-see event!

Imagine Van Gogh provides an exceptional introduction to the famous Dutch artist. It also provides a refreshing new take and perspective on some very well-known pieces of art.


3. How Long Do People Stay?


After checking in, expect to stay for around 30 minutes to an hour. There is an introductory area with informational displays about the exhibition and Van Gogh’s life. It takes about 15 minutes to read everything. After that there is the art show which takes around 20 to 40 minutes to experience fully.

Many visitors stay for about an hour from start to finish. If you don’t read all the background information about Van Gogh and find one cycle of the exhibition room to be enough, you can be in and out in half an hour. For people who read everything and love the experience, however, an hour isn’t enough.


Paintings by Marcela Strasdas


4. Is the Exhibition COVID-Safe?


Nothing in life is guaranteed, especially when it comes to COVID-19. Unless you hide in your home and avoid all human contact, there is always a chance of getting infected. That being said, in our non-medical opinions, Imagine Van Gogh was an exceptionally safe activity in Vancouver in 2021.

Despite being an indoor event, the exhibition provides ample room for physical distancing. There were fewer than a hundred people in the room when we went, and it was a massive space, so staying more than 6 feet away from others wasn’t a problem. During our visit the place didn’t feel crowded at all. Everyone had to wear a mask. You also didn’t have to touch anything.

In our opinion, Imagine Van Gogh did a great job of keeping attendance numbers low and its guests safe in 2021. If you went with people from within your own bubble (as you should have), it was probably one of the safest indoor activities to do given the circumstances.




7. Which Van Gogh Art Will We See?


The Imagine Van Gogh exhibition features over 200 of Van Gogh’s paintings and drawings including his most famous works. You’ll see images of Starry Night with its vivid dark colours and bold brush strokes, and Starry Night Over the Rhône.

Other paintings you’ll see depicted at the exhibition are The Potato Eaters, Blossoming Almond Tree, Poppies, Olive Grove, Harvest in Provence, The Girl in White, The Sea at Saintes-Maries and many others.

To learn more about eight of the artist’s most famous paintings, see our article about Van Gogh’s Art.


5. What Did We Like?


We were impressed with lots of things about Imagine Van Gogh, from the beginning until the end.

The Vancouver Convention Centre is an easy place to get to. It’s just a short distance from Waterfront Station, so accessible by car, bus, SkyTrain and SeaBus.

Check-in at the event in 2021 was simple and easy. There were signs outside directing you where to “gogh” and friendly staff welcomed guests as they arrived. Because tickets were bought with a specific entry time, when we went there was practically no lineup.

Inside the first room, at the start of the exhibition, displays hung from the ceiling with information to read. It was all nicely spread out. There was a lot to read, but you could move along and skip over parts you weren’t interested in. The text was in both English and French in Vancouver.

We liked that at the start, before seeing the art, we got to learn about Van Gogh. We learned about the artist’s life and his challenges. We learned about his genius, passion, mental health issues and family.

The art exhibit itself is both beautiful and impressive. The art is all Van Gogh’s. However, the way it’s presented is almost as much the work of the 21st century artistic producers of the exhibition as the Dutch artist himself.

We loved the size of the images, the ways they were presented and the overall experience. It’s all quite magical! We also appreciated the freedom we had to explore the exhibit. You don’t have to stand in a line and wait your turn to see a tiny painting. You can wander freely for the most part and explore at your own pace.


Imagine Van Gogh Exhibition


6. What Could Have Been Better?


In our opinion, Imagine Van Gogh is a near perfect exhibition. It’s hard to think of things to improve. If we had to identify something though, it would be that there could have been more information about the actual art. It’s a minor thing though, and, if you do your homework, it’s not a problem at all.

At the exhibition we learned a lot about the artist, which was great, and we got to see and experience his art, which was wonderful. The one thing we felt we didn’t learn enough about though was the art pieces themselves, other than through seeing them displayed all around us.

The introductory area at the exhibit showcased the artist, his history and the background to the Imagine Van Gogh exhibition. But there wasn’t a lot of information about the art itself. We didn’t learn the names of many specific works of art, or what was so special about individual pieces.

During our hour at the exhibition we saw lots of the Dutch painter’s art, but left not knowing the names of many pieces, or even what some of the original paintings actually look like.

Van Gogh’s art appeared in the main gallery in pieces. Occasionally an entire painting was projected as a complete image on a wall. At other times different parts of the same painting were on different walls, and sometimes there were various parts of different paintings. The result was that we can now recognize numerous images painted by Van Gogh, but not what paintings they were from or whether what we saw was a complete painting or just a small part of one.


Potential for Improvement

In our opinion, if there was one thing that could have improved the exhibition, it would be for it to have had more information about the actual art. In addition to the room with the historical information about the artist’s life, it would have been nice if there were photos and descriptions of some of the pieces that are on display.

After you exit the exhibition hall, in the gift shop, you can purchase a souvenir program which contains additional information about what you have just seen. It would be nice though to have the program beforehand, or a room where you could get the information. After seeing the 20-minute cycle of images, it would have been nice to leave, look up some of the images, and then go back inside to see what else one can recognize.

Another challenge with the format is that the images all appear and disappear quickly. Each scene stays up for between just 5 and 30 seconds. The pace is nice, and a strength of the show. However, it also means that when you see something you like you can’t just stand there and admire it for as long as you’d like.

If you’re hoping to get a photo of a Starry Night scene, or Sunflowers, have your camera close at hand! If you miss it, you’ll have to wait another 20 to 25 minutes!


For tickets and full details about the exhibition, see the official Imagine Van Gogh website.


Do Your Homework

To solve the above problem, we recommend people do some homework before seeing Imagine Van Gogh. You don’t have to learn about the artist’s life and personal history before you go. You’ll learn about that when you are there. Look up some of his art though.

Researching a bit about Van Gogh’s art will make it more fun and rewarding when you see something you recognize. The challenge though is knowing what will be on display, and on which wall and in what moment it’ll appear.

Before attending the exhibition, Google paintings like Starry Night, Yellow House, The Bedroom, Fishing Boats on the Beach and other Van Gogh works. A great website is that of the Van Gogh Gallery. It has information about a number of the Dutch master’s paintings. Another great resource is the website of the Van Gogh Museum in the Netherlands.

For photos and brief descriptions of eight of the Dutch artist’s works which you’ll see projected on the walls of the Vancouver Convention Centre, see our article about Van Gogh’s Art at Imagine Van Gogh.

You don’t have to learn about all of Van Gogh’s art. If you know what a few pieces look like in advance, however, it’ll make it that much more interesting to see what you recognize when images flash before you on the giant screens. If you aren’t already familiar with the artist and some of his work, a little reading beforehand about his art will compensate for this minor weakness of Imagine Van Gogh.


For tickets and full details about the exhibition, see the official Imagine Van Gogh website.


Video of Imagine Van Gogh

We filmed the following video when we went to the event at the beginning of April in 2021. As you’ll see in the video, there are images of the Dutch painter’s art on every wall. You really feel immersed in the scenes. The experience is both beautiful and impressive.



Other Information

To learn more about the exhibition see our article Imagine Van Gogh in Vancouver or visit the official Imagine Van Gogh website.

Other places to find art in the Lower Mainland include the following venues:

To learn about the venue where Imagine Van Gogh takes place, and its nearby neighbourhoods, check out the following:

Other articles that might be of interest include the following: