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Traveling Exhibit Brings New Concept For Art Appreciation To Springfield Museums

     A traveling art exhibit has premiered in western Massachusetts that uses 21st Century technology to highlight the world’s most famous 19th Century painter.

   At the “Van Gogh for All” exhibit at the Springfield Museums D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, visitors can step in front of a blue wall and be transported into Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, or manipulate the Dutch post-impressionist painter’s most famous work on a 12-foot-wide electronic screen.

    "The world loves Vincent van Gogh and here is a way for more of the world to engage with him and hopefully that will bring them to the fine art museums and have them thinking about art in a different way," said  Lou Bank, Chief Operating Officer of the Dolores Kohl Education Foundation, which developed the exhibit.

    He said there are places where people can sit and draw a self-portrait, step into a van Gogh landscape, or take a selfie with a sunflower.

  " We've got a section set up to look like what might have been van Gogh's studio so you can see what his world might have looked  like and there is a three-dimentional version of his bedroom to give a sense of how he played with perspective to make his art work.  So, if you get deep enough into it is a scientific take on his art work as well."

   Van Gogh for All premiered at the Houston Art Museum last March.  Bank said the response to it was “gratifying.”

   " In Houston, people were blown away by Van Gogh for All," said Bank. 

       The Springfield Museums is the first stop for the traveling exhibit on the East Coast. 

    Regina Walat, a retired school teacher who volunteers as a tour guide at the Springfield Museums, said she hoped the exhibit would generate more interest in fine arts museums.

    "I think it is wonderful," said Walat when asked her first impression of the exhibition.

    Springfield Museums President Kay Simpson said Van Gogh for All fits with the museum’s strategic plan to offer more hands-on, interactive programing to attract a wide audience.

   " When we first learned that the Van Gogh for All exhibition was going to go on tour, we immediately tried to schedule it for the Springfield Musuems," said Simpson.

    In a gallery adjacent to Van Gogh for All, there is a complementary exhibit that explores the influence of Japanese art on van Gogh’s painting.  It feature rarely seen authentic Japanese prints from the Springfield Museum’s own collection.

   The two exhibits are scheduled to run through October 14th.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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