Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 August 2020

A 'Starry Night' through your windscreen: Drive-in Van Gogh exhibition launches in Canada

The show is made up of two viewing areas in a large warehouse in Toronto

While a number of galleries and museums across the world have been trying to find ways to adapt in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the organisers of a Van Gogh exhibition in Canada have taken a novel approach: offering art lovers a drive-in option.

The exhibition, which is taking place in Toronto, was initially slated to start in May and was delayed by the pandemic. It began welcoming visitors on Friday, as part of the city's gradual lifting of restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

"Because of Covid-19, we had to think creatively," Corey Ross, a co-producer of the exhibition, told AFP.

The show comprises two areas in a large warehouse: one features social-distancing circles on the ground for those who would prefer to view it on foot, and the other is for people in cars, who can drive right into the space.

WWorks by the Dutch painter are projected in high definition on the walls and floor, giving visitors the feeling that they are seeing the artworks from within.

Viewing art from inside a car provides a safe experience for people who are wary of leaving home, while also creating a unique experience, Ross said.

"You've never had an experience like this in your car. The feeling is almost as if the car is floating through the art."

The show was set up in collaboration with the creators of Van Gogh, Starry Night, a hugely popular exhibition presented last year at l'Atelier des Lumieres in Paris.

The Toronto warehouse has space for up to 10 cars at a time. Once parked in designated spots, those inside can spend 35 minutes in the bold, intense world of Van Gogh.

Visitors must switch off their engines during the projections, which are accompanied by music and positioned so they can be clearly seen through a windscreen.

Ross said the idea is turning out to be a hit, but will remain a temporary solution.

"If you're a car enthusiast, it's a very special moment," he said.

"But I think overall, as soon as there's an opportunity for the public to go back to experiencing art in the way that we love to – in groups, beside other people, where you can talk and see strangers and see how they react and be part of a community – I think we will go back to that."

The art hall for cars is almost completely booked until the exhibition's end on Sunday, August 9. The show will remain open to pedestrians until September.

Updated: July 7, 2020 02:57 PM

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