A is for Art, or lack thereof: Well, there’s no original art anyway. But what Meet Vincent Van Gogh lacks in actual impasto on canvas it makes up for with massive, illuminated screens featuring projections of the artist’s most famous works and deconstructed, three-dimensional recreations of his paintings that you can literally climb inside. Sure, it’s not your usual big-name blockbuster and it’s a million miles away from last summer’s Van Gogh & Britain exhibition at the Tate, but if you can get on board with this very 21st century way of experiencing art and accept that, while you’re more than welcome to lie down in the Bedroom in Arles, you’ll have to go to Amsterdam to see the actual Bedroom in Arles, it’s actually kind of cool, albeit hugely overpriced considering you’re getting literally zero Van Gogh for your money.
B is for Bedroom at Arles: Ok so I’ve already mentioned this but it’s almost definitely the high point, particularly if you’re toting a bored toddler. Our toddlers were, by the way, massively bored by this entire exhibition, which is weird because we’ve dragged them to many, many way more boring things than this. Admittedly it wasn’t great for toddlers, who are charged almost as much as adults and offered an activity sheet and audioguide aimed at over-eights (the lady handing out the activity sheets looked horribly disappointed that they couldn’t read), but at the very least there’s some cool immersive stuff and some interactive bits like… um… the Bedroom at Arles, some kind of Van Gogh-led art lesson that didn’t really work because the kids refused to wear their too-old-for-them audioguides, and a hay-bale seat that they enjoyed launching themselves off while everyone else looked thoroughly pissed off (but we didn’t care because we’d just paid thirty-five fricking quid for tickets and they could launch themselves off whatever the hell they wanted as far as we were concerned).
C is for Can’t hear anything: I didn’t realise until after I’d blown said £35 on tickets and spent 20 minutes crying in the foyer trying to install the Ticketmaster app on my phone, but your comprehension and enjoyment of this thing is hugely reliant on the audioguide, since there’s basically zero text in the exhibition. I actually declined the audioguide, as I literally always do because children, but the woman on the desk (activity sheet lady) looked disappointed again and told me that there was no point in doing it without the audioguide, so I took the sodding thing and then obviously took it off again 30 seconds later because children. She was right though, you need the audioguide, and if you’re as neurotic as me there is just no way you’re going to be able to listen to the audioguide, keep tabs on a wayward three year old and soothe the wails of a teething, buggy-bound baby. So maybe just don’t bother… like, at all.
Tickets: £18-£20 for adults, £14-£16 for kids.
Verdict: Lovely staff (with the exception of disappointed lady), a cool concept that looked great and probably a really fun thing to do on your own. As an under-5s activity, however, it blew. 2/5
Until 21st May 2020
Babu hogs the bed in the 3D recreation of The Bedroom in Arles at the Meet Vincent Van Gogh Experience, South Bank London.