Spectators view large sunflowers projected on walls.

The Masters Get a New Look

Technology and fine art collide to create installations that put people inside masterworks like Monet’s Water Lilies, Klimt’s The Kiss, and, perhaps most popular, Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Immersive art experiences began in the early 2000s in Europe and have gained popularity across the US, with exhibits becoming more larger and more vibrant as projector technology has progressed. Multiple organizations have joined the immersive art space–for instance, at one time the Immersive Van Gogh, Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, and Beyond Van Gogh all had touring installations.

In place of a curator, the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit has a team of 2D and 3D animators, graphic artists, and producers, who coordinate hundreds of projectors, music, and physical items like pillars of mirrors to create an immersive art experience that adapts to the building it’s in. Created by Massimiliano Siccardi, Immersive Van Gogh is currently exhibiting in 20 US cities, each show designed specifically for its venue.

Spectators view stars and swirls projected on walls and the floor.
Spectators are immersed in Van Gogh’s Starry Night in Los Angeles.
A picture of the original Starry Night by Van Gogh.
The original Starry Night on display at MOMA in New York City.

The experience looks decidedly more impressive on camera than a canvas, which is often smaller than expected, from 20 feet away through a crowd of people. At the Lighthouse ArtSpace in Los Angeles, colorful renderings of Van Gogh’s works are displayed with 500,000 cubic feet of projections–even when it’s crowded there is always a place space of wall, floor, or ceiling to appreciate. Music composed by Luca Longobardi is pumped throughout the building, vacillating between ethereal, buoyant, and melancholy depending on the artwork. Pillars of mirrors add even more surfaces to see the art projected on, creating a truly immersive-feeling experience. It may not be how Van Gogh intended, but it is an impressive display.   

Spectators sit on benches viewing flowers projected on the wall.
Van Gogh’s Irises surround visitors, who view from scattered benches in Los Angeles.
Projected art reflects off mirrors.
Projected art reflects off mirror pillars.


For some, immersive art experiences will never replace the awe of looking at a canvas that was touched by a master. However, these installations have opened up the world of fine art to new generations and delivered it (usually) much closer to where they live. It is one exciting way to observe the evolution of art and technology working together.