Van Gogh Museum creates new ways to combine customer experience with culture and family entertainment

High traffic locations seem to be increasingly searching for ways to increase their appeal. Visitor numbers in shopping centers and retail venues drop, mainly due to the ongoing rise in popularity of online shopping. In November,  the BBC even announced the U.K. to be in a “shopping center crisis”. At the same time, the family entertainment industry has seen a significant rise in the popularity of touring exhibitions. Nathan Sawaya’s “Art of the Brick”, literally built with Lego bricks, “Harry Potter: The Exhibition” or “Pixar: 30 years of animation” are examples of major brands expanding their activities into ‘experience’ and pop-up solutions that travel the world. Could these touring exhibitions and their experiential content be the solution to the problem of the decline in visitors of high traffic locations such as shopping centers?


The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has decided to develop a variety of customized content to address this problem and above all to share Vincent’s work with people from all over the world. Van Gogh is one of the most famous artists in the history of Western art and remains to have a great emotional impact on millions of people worldwide. Responding to changing market demands, it is also its means to expand its museum activities, developing innovative ways to successfully share the life and works of the world’s most iconic painter, Vincent van Gogh.


It is no secret that successful brands sell, and this also applies to touring exhibitions and other experiential content. The strong branding of the internationally acclaimed Van Gogh Museum guarantees visitors that they will receive the authentic story from a well-respected source, in an unexpected location outside of the museum. Visiting a Van Gogh exhibition at an airport should take into account the amount of time visitors spend here, their main purpose of being at this location, their motivation and suchlike. With these considerations in mind, a variety of non-location-based Van Gogh Museum content can be developed.

Expanding success

Reaching out to new audiences globally and showing inspired and bold cultural entrepreneurship is the key focus of the Van Gogh museum. In 2017, the museum welcomed over 2 million visitors, which made it the most visited museum in the Netherlands. This high level of appreciation was also reflected in extensive research into the reputation of the 18 most famous art museums in the world published by the Erasmus University Rotterdam (2017). European respondents ranked the Van Gogh Museum at the top, closely followed by the Louvre.


The Van Gogh Museum perfectly well understands that the public increasingly expects to be able to experience content by means of innovative technologies, rather than by simply looking and learning,  whether it concerns the intriguing life of an artist or it being a showcase for a popular movie. Partners of the museum have stated that employing the Van Gogh Museum concepts has resulted in larger visitor numbers, increased length of visiting time and even more return visits to their venues.


A new way of presenting iconic content

The Van Gogh Museum is recognized as the world’s leading authority on the life and work of Vincent van Gogh. By combining the expertise of the museum with techniques commonly employed in the entertainment industry, the museum has transformed the story of Vincent van Gogh into the touring Meet Vincent van Gogh Experience (1500m2). Although the museum owns the largest collection of original artworks by Vincent van Gogh, they chose not to present them in the tour. Instead, they created a multi-sensory, interactive exhibition inspired by Van Gogh’s artwork and letters, bridging the traditional gap between entertainment and high art, and making art accessible to a wider audience. Not only for the traditional museum visitor, but also for families, and so-called “digital nomads.” The Experience won the prestigious Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement – ‘Immersive Touring Museum Exhibit’.

For venues that cannot house an experience of this size, the Van Gogh Museum offers a so-called Discover van Gogh ‘highlight-experience’ (400m2-600m2). This scalable exhibition contains all the highlights of the original experience without compromising on quality.


Museum Editions Pop-up

With respect to the shopping center crisis, the Van Gogh Museum is exploring new ways and techniques to share Vincent’s work with people from all over the world with its Van Gogh Museum Editions Pop-up Tour. However, the question is how Van Gogh’s heritage can be made available globally, without endangering the collection. Most of the masterpieces are so delicate that moving them is hazardous; yet not everyone is able to visit the museum in Amsterdam. The Van Gogh Museum Editions are premium-quality, three-dimensional replicas of nine of Van Gogh’s masterpieces. This year, the Van Gogh Museum Editions Pop-up Tour will travel to several high-class shopping malls in the United States and is available to be exhibited in other countries.


The Van Gogh Museum always searches for venues, retailers and partners to collaborate in spreading the art of Van Gogh in innovative ways. Read more about the options or contact them directly.

About Author

Pascal Iakovou

Pascal Iakovou is Social Media Manager for Reed MIDEM's MIPIM & MAPIC brand real estate events.

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