'Immersive Van Gogh' opening postponed at the old L.A. home of Amoeba Music

·3 min read
The Immersive Van Gogh hard hat tour, as the exhibition was being installed.
The "Immersive Van Gogh" show, filled with video imagery of the artist's work, photographed during its L.A. installation. (Deborah Vankin / Los Angeles Times)

To Gogh? — or not to Gogh? — that is the question.

The highly anticipated opening of "Immersive Van Gogh" has been postponed by at least a day, organizers said, because the show hasn’t yet received its certificate of occupancy from the Los Angeles Fire Department indicating that the building meets fire code standards for large numbers of visitors.

About 2,500 ticketholders were expected to attend the opening Saturday in the former Amoeba Music building on Sunset Boulevard. Organizers from Lighthouse Immersive and Impact Museums said they plan to send an email Friday afternoon to ticketholders, who can choose to be fully refunded — tickets start at $39 — or reschedule their visit “at the date of their choosing,” representative Shelley Reinstein said.

A media preview that was to take place Friday morning also was postponed, according to an email sent out late Thursday night.

"We are still awaiting our occupancy permits," the email said. "We have been working closely with the City and LAFD and expect approval shortly.”

Reinstein said the delay is “100% not” related to COVID-19 and the spread of the Delta variant.

“There’s nothing wrong,” she said Friday. “They’re just checking every nook and cranny. The inspection is just taking longer than expected and hopefully we’ll get the final signoff about Sunday later today.”

Fire department representative Nicholas Prange said the hold-up had to do with converting the space from a store to exhibition space.

"The building was formerly used as a retail space and is being converted to a public assemblage occupancy," he said in an email. "At this time, LAFD Fire Inspectors have deemed the transition incomplete and, therefore, not yet able to be used for a public assemblage event."

Exhibition coproducer Diana Rayzman said Friday, "Construction is complete, it’s the testing that isn’t complete. We were ready to open our doors this morning and welcome guests and are working with the fire department, who’s been very diligent about checking all the safety systems we’ve put in place.”

"Immersive Van Gogh" features a 40-minute video installation that plays on a loop. Created by Italian film producer and exhibition creator Massimiliano Siccardi, the video incorporates 400 animated Van Gogh images and mostly original music by Italian composer Luca Longobardi. Imagery appears on the walls and floor and is multiplied in mirrored sculptures throughout three galleries. There's also a "sunflower bar" as well as homages to Van Gogh by other artists in a lounge.

The popular exhibition, which launched in Toronto in 2020 and is running in five cities across the U.S. and Canada, has had other ticketing snafus. The Dallas opening was pushed from June 17 to Aug. 7 due to permitting issues — the delay affected about 46,000 tickets. Some ticketholders said they hadn’t been notified of the postponement or had trouble connecting with the customer service group to get new tickets.

Organizers said they will know by end of day Friday if the show can open Sunday. If not, another email will go out to ticketholders.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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