Van Gogh Alive Review | Adelaide | 2021

The Van Gogh Alive exhibition is a unique immersive experience featuring 3,000 of the famous post-impressionist’s work.  It’s different to any other show you’ve seen. 

It’s the experience that’s had 8 million visitors all around the world in over 70 countries and now it’s Adelaide’s turn! 

Instead of a traditional art gallery where you walk around through different rooms viewing artworks on walls, this experience is all in one huge warehouse room with many towering digital screens surrounding you on all sides. Seeing the art in this huge format allows you to see details up close and gives visitors the sense of walking in some of the most famous artworks in the world.

As well as the Van Gogh Alive exhibition show, the Grand Pavilion also offers visitors four other immersive spaces. There is Van Gogh’s Café at Arles at Night where you can enjoy a drink at a table; a recreation of Van Gogh’s bedroom; the Sunflower Infinity Room which houses 10,000 sunflowers, and the very cool walk-through Starry Night room, which is a world first. Another stunning feature is the wraparound floral cherry blossom as you enter the Pavilion.

While you are there you can also enjoy the Taittinger Champagne Bar, the Asahi Bar, and the Van Gogh Alive Merchandise Shop. In the cafe a French chef will be preparing French cafe classics such as croissants, baguettes, pies with sweet potato mash and quiches, toasties and cakes by the slice.

Van Gogh Alive Adelaide

Back to the exhibition in the Sensory 4TM Gallery. As mentioned above, this is not a traditional art gallery experience – it’s not quiet like a traditional gallery, instead classical music accompanies the visuals.

The Van Gogh Alive exhibition is a 42 minute presentation on a continuous loop. Unless you happen to enter exactly at the start, you will likely be watching it from another point. The show presents Vincent Van Gogh’s life and his works at different stages of his life, with information about each period and notes from his journals, in chronological order. Did you know that he never sold a single piece of work while alive – except for one which he did a contra deal for. Sadly he suffered a tragic artist’s life and died without ever knowing how loved and appreciated his work was. His story and artworks are moving – seeing them in this huge format is beautiful to watch and quite awe inspiring.

Will your kids love Van Gogh Alive? 

It’s a unique sensory experience that isn’t like anything that has been in Adelaide before. I personally like to take my kids to different events from a young age (my kids were going to Play School concerts before they were 2). They don’t always appreciate every experience, but they learn and develop their tastes for all sorts of arts through the years. So when I’m asked if this is for kids, it’s hard to answer as there’s no specific activities for kids there. Some kids will be mesmerised and will be awed by the Van Gogh Alive pictures and music, as much as adults are, while others may be bored after five minutes when the novelty wears off. It will depend on your child. For some kids everything is just “Good” or “Ok” so don’t expect too much. The loop goes for 42 minutes so it may be a long time for some kids, especially younger ones, to keep attentive for. They’re not having to stay in a seat like at a cinema and can move around freely. Many kids love the sensation of walking on the projections on the ground. Just be aware of keeping your kids under supervision so as not to disturb other patrons though.

If you’ve ever been to TeamLab Digital exhibitions in Japan or elsewhere, then this is kind of like that but without the kids interactive activities. The Starry Night room and Sunflower room are like small versions of their installations. 

If you know your child is sensitive to loud music, being in a dark room, or bright visuals, then see the videos we’ve posted to get a feel for what it’s like first. 

Whether your kids would be attentive enough to sit or stand through the whole show for 42 minutes really depends on the child. It’s not somewhere they can run around though. Remember that it is very dark so you would want to keep them close. If you are a serious art lover and want to appreciate the exhibition in peace you could consider going by yourself and experience it first to determine if it’s something your kids will appreciate. This is one of those exhibitions that I think you would appreciate and notice different things seeing it again. With 3,000 pieces of art displayed, there’s a lot to take in. When we visited Monet & Friends in Sydney earlier in the year (a similar Grande Exhibitions event) I would have stayed longer to watch the show a second time (it’s a continuous 40 minute loop) if I didn’t have my kids ready to leave. They enjoyed Van Gogh a lot more as I feel his art is more colourful and vibrant and has a broader subject range. While I could stay there to watch the loop again and again, they were done with one cycle. I loved seeing it a second time though – there are favourite parts I could watch over and over. I noticed different things on my second visit and I found it just as, or even more, spectacular and moving. 

The purpose built Grand Pavilion was made in Germany under the supervision of Adelaide based company spanIT and has had quite an adventure getting here. It was travelling on a ship which just happened to be behind the one that got stuck in the Suez Canal in Egypt, which meant it needed to detour via South Africa where there were delays. When it finally reached Singapore it was caught in a line up with about 100 ships before it. This meant it was delayed by 2 weeks to get here. The amazing building team were able to make up for one of those weeks but it’s been quite a journey to get this happening in Adelaide only 1 week later than it was previously scheduled. Thankfully it’s arrived in the one state in Australia where we can still hold festivals.

More than 160 South Australians will be employed to bring this event to life in Adelaide, with 64 locals hired to create the venue while 100 South Australians will be employed for the season that starts on 1 July.

TIPS & NOTES for Van Gogh Alive

If you can go during the week, do it, as the ticket price is much cheaper. It varies depending what day but a family pass for 4 is currently $95 during the week compared to $155 on the weekend. Adult price can vary from $35 to $50, child price from $20 to $35.

The Grand Pavilion is accessible for wheelchairs and prams.

There are some benches scattered around the room for those who would like to sit. They are black benches, and the room is dark, especially when you first walk in and your eyes haven’t adjusted, so be careful you don’t bump into them. You are welcome to stand, move around the room, or sit on the floor to watch. You can even stand on the screens on the floor to be immersed in the art.

See our first look pictures below of Van Gogh Alive in Adelaide in the Grand Pavilion below. We have now updated our photos as some areas have changed since the launch event before opening to the public.

Van Gogh’s beautiful cherry blossom artwork is stunning in the foyer as soon as you enter the Grand Pavilion. 

The recreation of Van Gogh’s bedroom below is amazing – it looks just like a painting doesn’t it? Due to covid restrictions visitors cannot touch or sit on the bed. You are welcome to enter the room and stand in it for photos but just not touch anything.

{In case you have seen photos on social media of people sitting on the bed or chair, these would have been taken at the launch night – covid restrictions then came into place and by the opening day it was not ok for visitors to touch things in the room}. 

Van Gogh Alive Adelaide bedroom

Pics below are inside the Gallery – some are from the launch night Tuesday 29 June, and others are from just before the first session opened on Thursday 1 July 2021 (it is not usually that empty).

Van Gogh Alive Adelaide

Once you’ve finished watching the exhibition you leave via the Infinity Sunflower Room which houses 10,000 sunflowers. Another great opportunity for a photo. 

The Starry Night Room below is the space that you walk through to get to the exhibition room at the start. This installation was completed just in time for the opening on Thursday. We previously had different photos of this room as it was set up differently a few nights below for the launch (just in case you saw our social media pics from the launch night and am puzzled why it’s different).

Van Gogh Alive is a world class must see experience which we are so lucky to have in Adelaide. If you ever did a project on Vincent Van Gogh at school or studied him during Art; own a print of one of his famous works, or just love his broad repertoire of paintings, you will be sure to enjoy seeing so many pieces in one spot, in this amazing format. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, Van Gogh fan, or just love to experience something entertaining and unique, this will transport you to another world. 

Created by Bruce Peterson’s Grande Experiences, presented by Lexus and produced by Andrew Kay AM in association with BBC and Fane.



Bakery on O’Connell is one of our favourite places to stop for delicious baked goods like the sunflower cupcake below. Read our review of Bakery on O’Connell here.




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