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Will the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit space be ready in 10 days for opening night?

Van Gogh Preview Tour wideshot
Van Gogh Preview tour with speaker
Posted at 5:28 PM, Mar 14, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For nearly a year now, NewsChannel 5 heard how the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit is coming to Nashville.

The show — featuring giant reproductions of the artist's most famous works — has been delayed a number of times.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates first exposed what was behind all of the earlier delays. And, Monday, NewsChannel 5 toured the site and got to see what's left to be done.

The show is set to open in 10 days. The question now is: will the exhibit space be ready by then?

It's impossible to miss the billboards all over town advertising Immersive Van Gogh.

But for months, many have wondered whether the exhibit would ever really open in Nashville.

Now less than two weeks from opening night, the show's producers invited reporters for a tour of what they admit is very much still an active construction zone.

"It’s going to look very different on (March) 24 when we officially open to the public. You’re going to be amazed at the transformation that will be happening," organizers told the group gathered ahead of the tour.

The Immersive Van Gogh show was originally supposed to open back in November. And since then, there's been one delay after another.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates first exposed how the building plans were not even finished until late November, and contractors only got construction and building permits to start work in January.

But they've clearly been busy and have managed to transform the old Belle Meade theatre, which was also once home to a Harris Teeter grocery store. The transformation has meant turning the location into a major art space, where Van Gogh's most famous works are projected onto huge walls, more than two stories high plus the floor, from 67 projectors.

The preview for reporters gave just a taste of what it's like to be totally surrounded by moving images of Van Gogh's paintings set to a dramatic soundtrack.

The gallery and main feature of the exhibit, producers said, is all finished.

But the rest of the building, now dubbed the Lighthouse Artspace, not so much.

As Richard Ouzounian, the creative consultant to Immersive Van Gogh, led reporters around the main lobby, he remarked as he pointed to a blank wall.

"Now here you may say, 'I see nothing.' And you do see nothing right now," he said.

He also used large artist renderings to explain and show what will eventually be in the exhibit space's front lobby.

"This is called the pocket gallery," he said.

He said they still have to bring in a number of interactive displays, plus set up a long hallway filled with video monitors and other visuals about Van Gogh's life.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Ouzounian, "It seems like there is still a lot left to be done?"

"Well, yes and no," he replied.

Before the public can come in, the site still needs 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 can be done in a couple of days.

Ouzounian said now that the gallery is done, they can focus on everything else, which he insisted will be easy to get finished in time.

"Absolutely. They assure me it will, and having seen other venues where things were not as far along as they did, it’ll be ready," he said.

Opening night is Thursday, March 24.

The show is set to run through June.

Tickets are still available and prices start at $40 for adults and $25 for kids 16 and under.

If you're not sure whether Van Gogh is your thing or not, you can visit the lobby exhibit with interactive displays which will be open and free to the public during the show's run.

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