Sunday, February 14, 2016

In Chicago, Sleep in Van Gogh's Bedroom


If somehow you're lucky enough to snag a reservation, you could spend the night in a startlingly realistic recreation of Van Gogh's bedroom...not in the South of France but in a doorman high-rise in Chicago's River North neighborhood.

The room was commissioned by the Art Institute of Chicago, in conjunction with their new show, Van Gogh's Bedrooms. The show and the nearby room officially open today and will remain intact until May 10. 

The museum exhibit focuses on Van Gogh's "quest for home" and, in particular, the three paintings the made of his bedroom in the Yellow House in Arles during 1888 and 1889. The famous Dutch artist moved 37 times in his short 37-year life.

The show features all three of the famous paintings, one on loan from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, one from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and the third from the Art Institute's own collection. More than 30 additional works--and a scale replica of the bedroom--round out the exhibit, with large screens scrolling images and text from Van Gogh's letters and sketchbooks, and music tying it all together. 

Those who do get to book the room will pay just $10 for the night...with tickets to the show thrown in. The rental is listed on Airbnb here and written in Van Gogh's voice; the photos are fantastic so have a look whether you actually want to stay here or not. If you do, good luck with that: the first block of nights were snapped up immediately and you'll need to check the museum's social media channels, such as Twitter and Facebookto find out when more will be released.

From a publicity standpoint alone, the rental room was pretty genius, generating enormous press for the museum exhibit in the Guardian, Adweekthe New York Post and Today.com, just to name a few. 

"It's sort of crazy how excited people are over the project," said Glenn Ragaishis in the Chicago Tribune; he oversaw the room's fabrication at Ravenswood Studio, the local company that, more typically, builds sets for Lyric Opera and other theater companies. 

"Who wouldn't want to spend the night inside a painting of a rustic garret that once belonged to a suicidal Dutch post-impressionist?" asks Jezebel.com (which goes on to call the room "cramped and creepy" looking).

The rental, equipped with cable and Wi-Fi, will remain intact until the exhibition's May 10 closing. 

The first overnight guest, staying tonight, will be Robby Sexton, the Art Institute's social media manager. His goal, he says, when he writes about his stay on the museum's Facebook page and elsewhere, "will be to make people feel as jealous as possible."
Other nights have been reserved for "social influencers," artists and bloggers, who will of course be chronicling the experience.
"We hope it's a way to bring fresh eyes and fresh perspective to the painting, which has long been an icon of our permanent collection," says the Art Institute's Amanda Hicks.

To watch a short, touching video in which curator Gloria Groom explains why having a bedroom of his own was so important to Van Gogh, click here.

To learn more about Van Gogh and the paintings, you might enjoy the Vogue.com story

And for all the show details, visit the Art Institute website here.

Photos: (1) The recreated "Bedroom in Arles," in Chicago's River North, is  theoretically rentable on Airbnb for $10 per night. Follow the Art Institute on Twitter and Facebook to find out when. (2) The room is an amalgamation of the three paintings Van Gogh did of his bedroom; all three are in Chicago for the show. Pictured is one from 1889.  

1 comment:

  1. Do you remember years back when they did this in Arles next to the Arena and sold it as a visit to "Van Gogh's bedroom" for 3 euros a pop? It looked a lot like the CIA's version actually but was such a ripoff that eventually it was forced to close down! And yes, I actually fell for it and went... ;)

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