Il-LUME-nating van Gogh

Amy Lynch

Go, van Gogh! You may be familiar with the artist’s name and his most famous pieces, but it’s safe to say you’ve never experienced his work like this before.

This summer, the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) at Newfields launches THE LUME, the first multi-sensory permanent gallery of its kind in the United States, bringing the art of Vincent van Gogh to life. Over the past year, the fourth floor of the IMA facility has been completely transformed to now accommodate 30,000 square feet of three-dimensional digital art space, allowing visitors to walk into and through moving images of the art itself. Although immersive van Gogh programming has popped up in several locations around the country, no other offering can compare to the IMA exhibition in terms of sheer scope, scale and duration.  

“We envision the exhibition as a groundbreaking cultural experience for the Indianapolis community,” said Jonathan Berger, Deputy Director for Marketing and External Affairs for the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. “Ultimately, this digital art gallery will be a refreshing take on how one can enjoy and appreciate art. As travel bans begin to lift, we look forward to presenting this one-of-a-kind experience to a worldwide audience and welcoming more people to our great city.”  

The man, the artist, the exhibition

Born in 1853, Post-Impressionist Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh is best known for his distinctively expressive painting style, characterized by its strong lines, natural subject matter and bold use of color.

The largest continuous exhibition space in the 137-year history of the organization, Newfields’ THE LUME utilizes large-scale digital projections that fill the entire galleries to create a feeling of floor-to-ceiling immersion into renowned van Gogh works like The Starry Night (1889), Sunflowers (1888) and more. A classical music score accompaniment heightens the overall sensory experience.

Based out of Australia, Grande Experiences produced the project, adding THE LUME to a portfolio of more than 190 exhibitions the company has created in more than 145 cities around the world. Founder Bruce Peterson came up with the idea to reimagine traditional art through advanced technology 15 years ago, constructing something entirely new and innovative.

“The cultural scene is vastly changing as visitors demand new experiences; we have been at the forefront of this movement globally as our popular exhibitions have quickly moved from artifact-based to multimedia to multi-sensory and now to very experiential,” he explained. “We are engaging new audiences to appreciate the arts in a different way, and we know from our work internationally that it will encourage more people to visit places like Newfields with renewed appreciation.”

What else you’ll see

To complement the digital elements of the exhibition, Newfields will make van Gogh’s Landscape at Saint-Remy (Enclosed Field with Peasant, 1853-1890), House in Provence by Paul Cézanne (French, 1839–1906), Landscape near Arles by Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903) and other pieces from the IMA permanent collection available for viewing. Guests can also learn more about van Gogh through hands-on interpretative activities, and purchase one-of-a-kind food, drink and retail items.

“With a large-scale project like THE LUME Indianapolis, our goal is to attract people from all walks of life — non-museum goers and art aficionados alike — through the intersection of technology and art,” Berger explained. “THE LUME’s digital experience is presented in an art format that appeals to a larger, more diverse audience. This is especially true for those who are new to any form of art, or those who don't typically visit museums. People of all ages will witness the possibility for art exhibitions to move far beyond the static nature of traditional museums.” 

To keep the experience fresh, Newfields plans to update THE LUME on an annual basis.

“We’re still in the planning stages of the second year’s content, including the artists and works, but the museum’s fourth floor space will change each summer,” Berger said. “Our goal is to announce the second year’s content in the fall of 2021.”

Made possible through generous funding from Lilly Endowment, Inc., THE LUME is tentatively set to open in July; watch Newfields’ web site and social media accounts for announcements and updates. Public admission rates are $25 for adults and $17 for youth age 6 to 17; admission for Newfields members is $20 for adults and $13 for youth. Children age 5 and under get in free.

If you go, keep in mind that Newfields continues to follow all local and state government mandates regarding Covid-19 safety protocols and regulations. Masks are currently required while on site at the campus, and social distancing is encouraged.

For more information about THE LUME and the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, call 317-923-1331 or go to