Review of San Francisco's Van Gogh Installation Exhibit

The new main attraction for everyone who's anyone on instagram in San Francisco: the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit San Francisco!  I've gotten a few questions on the SF Van Gogh experience, so I thought I would take a page from my friend Steven's blog and share my own take on the experience. 


For context, my brother got Andrew and I the VIP Flex tickets for Christmas.  Apparently my family had been getting served the instagram ads for this experience too!  The VIP Flex tickets allow the ticket holder to change the date of their visit, and can also arrive up to 2 hours before or after their ticket time. This ended up coming in handy on the day we went, because I was NOT ready to get up and go at 10am, so we got to go in at a leisurely 11am and I could really dress the way I wanted to.

Van Gogh Exhibit Lewk

I had an outfit planned for this experience for a long time, which included my black Kangol bucket hat that I was inspired to buy by the show Emily in Paris. I was planning to pair it with a Zara blazer dress and my Gucci tights (that I also have yet to wear).  The night before our Exhibit visit, I decided to google what Emily in Paris was actually wearing when she and Gabriel and Camille went to the Van Gogh exhibit on the show.  Emily was wearing a Chanel jacket in a similar mint tweed, and since I had just gotten this Zara set, I called an audible and wore my Easter outfit instead.  I planned both outfits using the StyleBook app, which I discovered on TikTok (by her following me!) and have LOVED using for my weekend outfits. 


Emily wears a neck scarf with her mint coat, and her hair is down, but none of my silk scarves were working with this outfit. I decided to go with my pink beret as a nod to the Parisian Emily. 

Was this look extra? Absolutely.  However, I have only so many places to dress up and wear all my new clothes, so I had to take the opportunity.  I felt a little ridiculous walking in, but the Van Gogh Exhibit employee who welcomed us into the building immediately made me feel at ease.  She told me she loved my outfit and that it was the perfect thing to wear to the exhibit.  It made my day!


I figured parking would be a hassle around the area (the building is on Van Ness in a not-so-great area).  We drove around the building a few times, getting stuck in a bunch of right turns and no-left-turns.  There is one side street behind the Exhibit building, and while we were waiting to turn right again, someone magically left! We immediately reversed and got into the spot.  Otherwise, I would recommend trying to park on the street in Hayes Valley just to try to make the walk (and your car) safer. 


The exhibit show runs for 35 minutes. When you arrive, you will likely be arriving in the middle of one of the 35 minute shows.  You basically watch to the end, and then watch the show restart, and you'll figure out how much through the show you started at.  We ended up watching the show about 2.5 times.  Our host that led us into the room also let us know that some people spend 2-3 hours in the exhibit.  While we were there for about 1.5 hours, we could have stayed longer! We had plans afterwards though so we had to leave.  

While the showroom is a lot simpler than what is shown on Emily in Paris (the SF version is literally one box with a viewing platform in the middle), it was still mesmerizing to be in the room looking at the animated paintings set to music blasting and reverberating on the walls.  Our host also gave us a pro tip: his favorite spot to watch the show is to sit leaning against one of the corners, so you can feel the walls reverberate with the music and you can see the most amount of walls at once.  I would add to this and say to find one of the corners that are facing the mirrored sides of the viewing platform for the best view. 

At first, it was disorienting and distracting sitting in the corner as you basically are looking back at all the people that are looking at the walls.  However, you eventually get over it and see past them. I'm also not above people watching, ever! 

Photo Opportunities

I made a TikTok showing all the different poses I made Andrew take of me while we were there.  Everyone is masked while in the Exhibit room, which you can find here! I will say, the lighting in the installation room is hard to take pics in (flash ruins it), and it's also hard to block people's view just for the gram.  Still got a few shots in though, because pics or it didn't happen amirite? 


The VIP Flex tickets came with a bunch of unexpected perks.  We each received a fake sunflower, Starry Night-printed lanyards with our VIP passes, one Van Gogh poster each (they were different from each other), and seat cushions (which we were supposed to be able to keep, but due to limited demand, they gave us each $20 gift cards to their store instead).  

Since we had a combined $40 to spend in the gift shop, we spent a good amount of time there.  Andrew and I agreed that it's the coolest gift shop we've ever seen at a museum.  They were also blasting early-2000s pop-R&B and I was LOVING it. 

I ended up getting this bucket hat that is printed with Van Gogh's Almond Blossom.  It doesn't actually fit my head that way, because I have a huge head, but it's close enough.  They also had a Starry Night bucket hat but it was even farther from fitting this huge dome. 


All in all, I thought it was a great experience! Granted, we didn't actually pay for the tickets, but I probably would have if we didn't get them as a Christmas gift.  I would definitely recommend for anyone who misses museums, has been to the BEAMS exhibit in Japan, and is looking for a good weekend activity in the city.  I have been missing CULTURE!  Plus, there are a ton of great opportunities for the gram.  That aside, I loved being immersed in the exhibit and relaxing while surrounded by mesmerizing art. 



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