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By Erica Zazo

THE LUME Indianapolis’ Van Gogh exhibit breaks every traditional stereotype of an art gallery and museum. 

The brand-new exhibition at the 152-acre cultural campus at Newfields transforms the entire fourth floor of Indianapolis Museum of Art into a three-dimensional immersive gallery. Nearly 30,000 square feet of stark-white walls come to life as visitors are immersed into a digital dreamworld projecting Vincent van Gogh’s iconic works of art across the floor and up to the ceiling.

Newfields – Indianapolis Museum of Art
Credit: Erica Zazo

Typical “Do Not Touch” signs are non-existent as I walk into the exhibit. In this interactive world, visitors, including educational groups from preschools and after-school programs to homeschool groups and conventional classrooms, are encouraged to play and dance with the colorful splashes of brush strokes and imagery that appear on every inch of the room. 

I experience sensory overload walking around the 360-degree gallery. Van Gogh’s most famous works of art, including The Starry Night (1889) and Sunflowers (1888), illuminate every square inch as his paintings stream out of 150 high-definition projectors hanging high above. A surround-sound symphony booms out of speakers from every corner and my head remains on a constant swivel as I try to keep up with the ever-changing scenery around me.

I watch as children and visitors touch the walls, snap photos and spin around in marvel at the digital works of art as they dance across the room. It’s quite amusing to watch the children run across the exhibit as they try to follow the river of blue brush strokes of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night as it streams across the floor.

The experience is a true carnival for the senses. I stroll by THE LUME Café, which serves unique art-inspired food and drink, and I even pass through a maze-like hallway with an array of mirrors bouncing reflections of Van Gogh’s digital renderings every which way. 

Making my way out of the main exhibit area, I walk into a gallery featuring original Van Gogh artwork displayed in traditional fashion. It’s a drastic transition from digital masterpieces to painted originals hanging in wooden frames. I’m reminded that works of art can be presented in all shapes, sizes and mediums — and still move you in all of its forms.

THE LUME Indianapolis
Van Gogh Yourself
Credit: Erica Zazo

The experience ends at THE LUME’s interpretation room — “Gogh Play” — where visitors can interact with the “Van Gogh Yourself” self-service selfie station. I decide to give it a try, and walk up to an illuminated ring light and iPad directing me to tap the screen to snap a photo. The screen starts to count down from three and flashes just as I squeeze in a full smile. My photo quickly displays on the screen in front of me and prompts me to choose from a number of Van Gogh inspired filters. As I exit the room, I catch my personal Van Gogh selfie projected within a frame hanging on a digital gallery wall, along with other school kids, families, and visitors who also struck a pose. 

Van Gogh Yourself gallery wall
Credit: Erica Zazo

From the playful atmosphere to the striking imagery, THE LUME is a can’t-miss, whimsical experience for youth and tour groups of all ages.

Australian-based Grande Experiences has presented the Van Gogh show in more than 50 cities outside of the nation including in Taiwan, Mexico, Spain and more. The exhibit will remain at THE LUME Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields through May 2022.

While the content will rotate annually, the technology and infrastructure for THE LUME’s digital galleries will remain permanent.

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Published once a year, Youth Travel Planner magazine presents ideas for educators and tour planners to develop educational travel for middle and secondary/high school students.