Van Gogh Dreams, Amsterdam

Designed by: Tellart
For client: Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam Floor area: 500.00 M² Year of completion: 2018
Submitted for: Exhibition of the Year

The Promise Of The South 3
© Tellart

The room conveys the inspiration, hope and creative euphoria of Van Gogh's first period in Arles.

About the Project

Van Gogh Dreams is an immersive narrative installation about Vincent van Gogh’s emotional journey during the year he spent in Arles (1888-1889)—a period that defined him both as an artist and as a man. Tellart crafted the experience from concept to installation, in close collaboration with the museum’s curators and leadership team. This is the first time the museum presents the artist in a visitor experience without using paintings. Van Gogh Dreams is designed to complement the main collection, while also making bold headway into new storytelling formats for engaging visitors.

The story is told through five distinct multisensory environments that capture contrasting emotions, inviting visitors to empathise with the man behind the paintings. Working closely with the museum’s curators and educators, Tellart conducted rigorous research on Van Gogh’s works and letters, arriving at a narrative arc that conveys the exciting ascent to his dreams, productive and motivated periods of happiness, and conflict and despair as his aspirations come crashing down.

Visitors move slowly through the exhibition, taking in the scenes and feeling for themselves what Van Gogh felt at these different stages of his life. The experience builds a deeper visitor relationship with the artwork and historical narrative portrayed elsewhere in the museum, and brings a sensation of intimacy to an artist many admire from afar.

What’s unique about it

Tellart successfully ventured the world-renowned Van Gogh Museum into new experiential territory – away from a ‘traditional’ exhibition and towards visceral narrative experience, building intrigue and excitement in new audiences for the museum.

Visitor numbers and explicit feedback substantiate that we indeed exceeded the museum’s goal. According to Axel Rüger, VGM Director, the exhibition makes “Van Gogh's emotional life [...] tangible and accessible for a large audience [...] by merging storytelling with aesthetics, technology and craftsmanship”.

In 12 weeks 250K people visited the exhibition. Visitors traveled from the world over specifically to attend. Data shows a large increase in positive attitudes, such as ”provokes reflection” and “feeling moved/surprised”. This success is reflected in Tellart’s own social media data: related posts earned 60K impressions across our relatively small followership.

Unique for Tellart is the exhibition’s purposeful rejection of digital display technology – we combined cutting-edge parametric design with simple, truthful materials and craftsmanship. Harnessing algorithms in our design process enabled otherwise impossible organic shapes, patterns and motion to create visitor immersion. In this way, 900 unique handmade, pressed glass flowers were created for the installation, inspired by the world-famous Sunflowers Van Gogh painted during this period.

Striving For Greater Meaning Wide
© Tellart

Moiré pattern of shifting lights that reference Van Gogh’s brushstrokes and night skies.

Striving For Greater Meaning
© Tellart

Striving for Greater Meaning–the serenity of this final space captures the concluding chapter of Van Gogh’s life, during which he was sustained by nature and painting, and his lifelong belief in a reality greater than himself.

© Tellart

The Dream Falls Apart–a room that captures Van Gogh’s inner turmoil as his dream abruptly ends. The soundscape is dominated by a Shepard tone, an auditory illusion of continually ascending tone that communicates visceral discomfort.

The Dream Falls Apart
© Tellart

Visitors are faced with their own shattered reflections.

Living With Gauguin Fix
© Tellart

Living with Gauguin–a simple room that captures the daily conviviality and animated exchanges between Van Gogh and Gauguin while sharing the Yellow House.

Leaving Paris
© Tellart

Leaving Paris–a dark and confined passage with clattering city sounds, expressing the depression and malaise Van Gogh experiences in Paris during the winter of 1887-1888.

L1004163 Copy
© Tellart

A visitor taking a picture of the sunflower field inside "The Promise of the South".

The Promise Of The South 2
© Tellart

The Promise of the South–a luminous, summery space with 900 handmade glass sunflowers

Location of project:
Fiction Factory

Van Tetterode


Studio Flek



Are you sure?

Remember that you can only vote once per award category.