Newfields' Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit Is Worth The Visit To Indianapolis

Aug 4, 2021 at 12:32 pm
Rendering of Starry Night at The LUME Indianapolis  | Courtesy of Grande Experiences
Rendering of Starry Night at The LUME Indianapolis | Courtesy of Grande Experiences

LEO doesn’t often delve into out-of-state stories but occasionally something happens close enough to Louisville that it would be a disservice not to tell our readers. This is one of those things. 

A Van Gogh exhibit opened on July 27 at the new LUME in Indianapolis at Newfields. Newfields is the name for the Indianapolis Museum of Art. This exhibit, along with Indy’s vibrant and growing downtown make this worthy of a weekend excursion. We visited the museum for the LUME and stayed at one of the newer hotels in the city, Bottleworks, to add to the experience. 

The Van Gogh exhibit at The LUME at Newfield’s 

The exhibit features 30,000-square feet of immersive galleries that offer the audience a new way to look at artwork through cutting-edge projection technology. THE LUME is an experience for the senses and the Van Gogh exhibit is one that should not be missed. It is well worth the drive to Indianapolis. THE LUME was created by Grande Experiences from Australia and will be a permanent part of the Newfields museum. 

The 150 projectors that power the LUME offer guests the ability to exist inside the art. The Van Gogh presentation lasts about 40 minutes of THE LUME’s 60 minute production. The content features about 30 of his works, writings by Van Gogh and music. About 20 minutes of the exhibit is reserved for short stories called featurettes. The featurettes are each about 5 minutes and share the work of contemporary artists who are inspired by the work of Van Gogh. 

Upon entering the museum, you are directed to the third floor. We were given a guide to the exhibit during the media day and escorted to the meeting space just outside the exhibit. The first thing we were told is that the exhibit was a 360 degree experience. We would enter the hall on one side and come out the opposite side where there was a gift shop full of Van Gogh-inspired souvenirs. 

The first room of the exhibit is expansive — you are surrounded on all sides and below by the works of Van Gogh. The size of the images is impressive but it is the animation, the music, even the scent of the area that gives THE LUME it’s effect. 

THE LUME is more than a theater, it is a digital experience where the user is put in the movement of the artists’ work. Walking into the Van Gogh exhibit, one is surrounded by his landscapes, his studies of flowers and other cultures. It feels as a viewer that you move with the strokes of Van Gogh’s brush. And when it is time for the Starry Night to begin, one of Van Gogh’s most famous works, someone will alert the guests. 

The experience is unique in that it brings art to life in a way that staring at a painting does not. It allows people of differing knowledge levels and ability levels to experience the works. 

“This is a way that they can consume art that is a little more accepting,” said Jonathan Berger, deputy director for marketing and external affairs. Berger said that it took about five years of work to complete THE LUME exhibit. Particularly during the early days of the pandemic, supply chain issues were a hurdle. 

“I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably say it again throughout, that if we can get people to do a deeper dive into Vincent Van Gogh or any of the other artists we have in this museum then I think we’ve made good on our promise as one of Indiana’s best cultural institutions,” said Berger. 

The ticket for THE LUME includes admission to the rest of the museum. So be prepared to spend a few hours looking at their contemporary collections and strolling the beautifully landscaped grounds of the museum. For the Van Gogh exhibit, the gardens were planted heavily with bright yellow and orange sunflowers, cone flowers and other bright flowers in the same family to pay homage to the colors and vibrancy of Van Gogh’s floral paintings. 

In the midst of the Van Gogh exhibit, there is a cafe with adult beverages and a menu that compliments the show. 

Guests with kids will want to visit the Gogh Play portion of the exhibit where guests can experience the “Van Gogh yourself” selfie wall and an interactive Van Gogh painting. In the next room, the museum’s original Van Gogh painting is hung alongside two of his contemporaries, Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin. This is a way to put his work into the correct temporal context. 

Tickets for THE LUME’s Van Gogh exhibit are available via the website. Click here to buy.

Tickets to the show are $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers. Some Speed Museum members may have reciprocity at Newfields. Click here to find out if you're one of them.

Where to stay

If you plan to make it an excursion, we stayed in the Bottleworks District at the Bottleworks Hotel and loved it. I mention this not to sell the hotel but because the hotel is unique. It is a converted Coca-Cola factory — with enormous rooms all at 500-square feet or above and only three floors of rooms. It makes up part of an entertainment complex built from the other factory buildings. Without really leaving the complex, it is possible to eat (see The Garage Food Hall), go bowling and have a drink (Pins Mechanical Company) and see a film (the Living Room) in the space of walking a few hundred feet in each direction. Location-wise, it is great. The rooms’ size and amenities make it perfect for a romantic getaway or one for families. Seriously. I can’t wait to get back.

[caption id="attachment_79323" align="alignnone" width="1707"] The swanky Bottleworks Hotel | Photo courtesy of The Addison Group[/caption]

Correction: Newfields' deputy director for marketing and external affairs is named Jonathan Berger. An earlier version of this story misspelled his first name.