The same company that produced an immensely popular immersive Van Gogh exhibition is creating another traveling immersive experience for Salvador Dalí. It will visit open in the fall and tour over 30 cities around the country.
Back in September 2020, St. Petersburg’s Dalí Museum was the first North American stop for Grande Experience’s Van Gogh Alive, which sold 8.5 million tickets worldwide and is still touring, according to the company website. (Confusingly, this exhibition is different from Immersive Van Gogh, which set New York City abuzz last summer. In September, a producer for that show told Bloomberg the still-touring exhibition had sold 3.2 million tickets.
Tickets for these exhibitions range from $30 to $80, plus booking fees; more money will buy you perks like yoga and mindfulness classes held in the installation; drinks at a bar, including a specialty elderflower cocktail purportedly inspired by “The Starry Night” (1889); and accessories from the gift shop.
Jeff Cornelius, head of North American commercial operations for Grande Experiences, told Hyperallergic that tickets for Dalí Alive will start at $40, with discounts for groups, kids, and seniors.
The Dalí Museum curated the works for the exhibition and crafted a storyline that focuses on Dalí’s personal and artistic life, in chronological format. In addition to its visual elements, Dalí Alive will also incorporate music and smell.
Immersive shows are sometimes met with eye-rolling in the art world. Some critics lament people’s disinterest in physical paintings nowadays and link the exhibitions’ popularity to another mass-cultural phenomenon, the “Netflix indignity called Emily in Paris,” according to one New York Times article. In an op-ed for Hyperallergic about a new such exhibition based on the “Mona Lisa,” writer Farah Abdessamad referred to “immersive art ennui that perpetuates the deja-vu distortion of granting value to the same few art jewels.”
But Dalí Museum Executive Director Dr. Hank Hine says the format “helps Dalí’s work become more accessible.”
“Both the way in which the material is presented, and the fact that it will travel across the country, means we can present Dalí’s works and story to audiences outside of our walls,” Hine told Hyperallergic in an email. “As an organization focused on preserving and sharing the life and legacy of Salvador Dalí, this is a wonderful avenue to showcase his talent and impact for those who may not regularly visit an art museum.”
The Florida museum, which boasts the largest collection of Dali’s work outside of Spain, has long been incorporating technology into their exhibits.
And since 2019, the museum has displayed an artificial intelligence version of Dalí, a deceptively lifelike rendering of the artist that appears to visitors on screens and narrates the exhibition. The institution also introduced an augmented reality (AR) component titled Masterworks in Augmented Reality, accessible through the museum’s app.
The museum is planning an expansion, part of which will include more space for AR and VR exhibitions.
“In my opinion, if Salvador Dalí were alive today, he would be creating in this exciting new age digital medium,” Hine said.