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Immersive Van Gogh to reopen Friday after being shut down by city for not getting final permits

Immersive Van Gogh Chicago
Posted at 5:46 PM, Mar 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-25 12:02:55-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The "Immersive Van Gogh" exhibit will reopen to the public Friday, after employees with the Metro Nashville Codes Administration shut down the attraction Thursday evening after the group failed to go through the final inspection process with the city.

"We appreciate the patience and understanding of our guests and apologize for any inconvenience," producer Corey Ross stated. "Thank you to the city of Nashville for welcoming us into your community. We are very proud of Lighthouse ArtSpace Nashville."

NewsChannel 5 Investigates previously tracked the event's progress after it took longer than anticipated to open for those with tickets. As a result, a building inspector issued a stop-work order, which is after producers allowed a soft opening Wednesday night. The order closed the show on its opening day, even though some people had tickets for Thursday night to see the exhibit until 10 p.m.

"What does a stop-work order mean?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Tim Rowland, Metro's Building Inspection Chief.

"That means they’re not supposed to be doing business. So they need to go on and close," he explained.

Metro said it was a matter of public safety after the show's producers failed to get final building permits and inspections before opening to the public.

And soon after, ticket holders arriving to see the show were turned away, while those already inside had to go.

"We got in there at 5 o’clock and so what is it 5:10 now?" Lynne Wells from Nashville told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.


"And what happened?" we asked.

"They just told us we had to leave," she said.

"How did you feel being turned away in the middle of the show?" we asked her.

"Disappointed because I mean we drove an hour to get here," Wells said.

The show features painter Vincent Van Gogh's most famous works projected onto walls more than two stories high. It was originally supposed to open at the old Belle Meade theater on Harding last November. Producers say they've already sold more than 100,000 tickets for the Nashville show.

Now, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has obtained an email the Immersive Van Gogh producer Corey Ross sent Metro Councilman Robert Swope Thursday afternoon asking for help getting the site inspected to "ensure we can be open for business Friday."

But here's the thing, when he sent that email, the show had already opened to the public several hours earlier.

"Yeah, they jumped the gun a bit," Building Inspection Chief Rowland said.


Rowland added that there is still a bit more work that needs to be done in a restroom and inspectors will be back Friday morning to check on it again.

Meanwhile, producers are hopeful they'll be able to reopen Immersive Van Gogh soon after.

Chris Sandmeyer from Smyrna had not been inside long before he was told to leave.

"So how much had you seen [of the show]?" we asked.

"About five minutes, maybe 10," Sandmeyer replied.

"It just stopped," he went on to explain.

"Did they tell you why?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked.

"They just said it malfunctioned. That was it," he said.


Since that was not accurate, we explained to him that the city shut the showdown because it didn't have the final permits.

Sandmeyer seemed to understand.

"If they need permits, they need permits. The law is the law, right?" he said.

This week wasn't the first time Immersive Van Gogh found themselves struggling to open the Nashville experience on time.

Building plans weren't finished until late November, weeks after the show's original opening night. The production team didn't apply for a building permit for the old theatre with Metro Codes until Dec. 2. The group only got the initial permit to start work in the building on Jan. 11.

Two weeks ago, the show's producers invited reporters for a tour of what they admitted then was an active construction zone.

At the time, the production crew said it knew it had major steps to complete before the anticipated opening.

Before the public can come in, the site still needed to pass two major inspections: a final building inspection by Metro Codes and a life safety inspection by the Fire Marshal. But as soon as all of the work is finished, Metro told NewsChannel 5 Investigates that both inspections could have been done in a couple of days.

A spokesman for Immersive Van Gogh said they will reschedule everyone who did not get to see the show Thursday night as well as those who were asked to leave early. Producer Corey Ross released the following statement after Metro Codes shut the show down.

"We had to pause admission to Lighthouse ArtSpace Nashville today because, at the time of our City inspection, a privacy partition in our VIP family bathroom was not fully installed. This project has now been completed, and we expect to be open for business tomorrow afternoon. Our patrons can be rest assured that if they have to 'Gogh' while visiting Immersive Van Gogh that they can do so in privacy.

Barring plumbing, all other permits have been approved, including the Fire Life Safety permit.

We appreciate the patience and understanding of our guests and apologize for any inconvenience. Any guest that we were not able to accommodate today has been offered tickets for this weekend, or a refund. Thank you to the city of Nashville for welcoming us into your community. We are very proud of Lighthouse ArtSpace Nashville. We look forward to welcoming patrons very soon."

As of now, the show is set to run through June.


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