Van Gogh Alive: Kids left mind-blown by immersive art experience at Spark Arena

The world-renowned immersive art experience Van Gogh Alive has made its way to Auckland's Spark Arena, but it's not the kind of art show you need to leave the kids at home for. 

In fact, leave behind your hushed tones, your best 'I'm contemplating a painting' facial expressions and your preconceived ideas of what it means to stroll through a gallery. 

Van Gogh Alive bills itself as 'no ordinary art exhibition', instead offering visitors a multi-sensory experience that weaves together light, colour, sound and even fragrance to help bring the Post-Impressionist artists' masterpieces to life. 

Creator Bruce Peterson dreamed up the concept after several failed visits to European art galleries and museums, in which his children would become bored, tugging on his sleeve and begging for a gelato just as he was becoming engaged in some of history's finest works of art. 

Peterson made it his mission to develop an art appreciation environment that could hold the shortest of attention spans and turn the frame on the wall into a portal of exploration into another world. 

But did he pull it off? Sure, you could ask the more than 6 million people who have visited the exhibition worldwide, but I decided to put it to the test by bringing along my two nephews - Sam, 12 and Ari, 6. 

Van Gogh Alive: Kids left mind-blown by immersive art experience at Spark Arena
Photo credit: Newshub

A brief stint in the Interpretive Area, which boasts a recreation of Van Gogh's bedroom with furniture painted in his trademark impasto style, proved that both kids had been studying the artist at school. 

"First he was poor, then he did a lot of paintings, then he sadly died, and then people knew that his paintings were really good," Ari explained. 

"And he cut off his ear," Sam chimed in, much to Ari's horror. 

"I didn't know that," Ari replied, shaking his head. 

From there it was time to briskly move on to the Sensory4 Gallery, where all thoughts of disembodied ears were quickly forgotten. 

"There's flowers, the only thing that I can see is sunflowers!" Ari said. 

Sam, meanwhile, tried a more critical approach: "This is cool... the brushwork is impeckatable. Impeckata-peckatable!" 

The walls were illuminated with moving images of some of Van Gogh's best-known works - The Starry Night, Sunflowers, Almond Blossoms - and the kids drank it all in, hooning around the space, touching everything, sitting on the ground and gazing into the artworks projected on the floor. 

Van Gogh Alive: Kids left mind-blown by immersive art experience at Spark Arena
Photo credit: Newshub

"He drew the starry Night looking out of the east-facing side of his asylum," Sam mused, to my utter shock and surprise. 

I googled it, it's true. 

"It was a really big space and you could run all around and it felt like you were running in his garden," Ari said on the way out. 

The last stop was the Immersive Sunflower Room, sure to be a spot for the Instagram selfies of several thousand Kiwi with its 9500 fake flowers and a bunch of mirrors adorning the walls and roof. 

"When I get out of this room I think I'm only going to see yellow," Ari said. 

"It was all amazing, that's all I can say." 

Van Gogh Alive is on now at Auckland's Spark Arena, and has recently extended its season to run until May 24.

Watch the video above to see Sam and Ari react to the spectacle, with not a sleeve-tug in sight.