(Photo courtesy of Beyond Van Gogh)

COUNCIL BLUFFS — An immersive art exhibit is bringing its global tour to southwest Iowa, showcasing the work of Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh.

The high-tech display features 300 of Van Gogh’s works projected on 50-thousand square feet of walls, floors and ceilings at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs. Fanny Curtat, the exhibit’s curator, says visitors can “become one” with the masterpieces.

“Beyond Van Gogh is really about blending cutting-edge projection technology and the traditional art historical objects, which are Vincent’s paintings,” Curtat says. “Through this blend, this allows the audience to literally set foot into his work, to literally be immersed into those paintings.”

The works are projected in 3-D with more than four-trillion content pixels, for an incredibly detailed, high-resolution portrayal of Van Gogh’s work. “If you know a lot about Van Gogh, then it’s wonderful. You just get to live this fantasy of being in the work you know and love,” Curtat says. “But if you don’t know anything about him, it’s a wonderful introduction to his work. We have this first room as people get in, it’s called the Introduction Hall, where they get to learn more about his work, to be familiar with more of his life.”

Visitors will see gigantic representations of Van Gogh’s instantly-recognizable classics, including “The Starry Night” and “Sunflowers,” as well many revealing self-portraits. Curtat, an art historian, says some of us only know a few details about the life of this spectacularly-talented painter, and “Beyond Van Gogh” is an opportunity to learn much more.

“People tend to remember only the darkness of his life, the ear-cutting incident, the poverty, the struggles with madness, and this is true only to a certain extent,” Curtat says. “This first room allowed us to connect with him differently to see how relevant his work still is.”

The tour has been underway for months and already more than two-and-a-half-million people across the planet have seen it. Visitors -are- welcome to take photographs and selfies inside the exhibit, which Curtat calls “Instagram-friendly.”

“Whether or not you’re into art, it’s great for people who are, but it’s also wonderful for people who aren’t,” Curtat says. “My secret wish is that people who might be intimidated by museums or might feel that it’s not for them, through this experience they might have an incline to have this connection with Van Gogh, and next time they get a chance to see an original Van Gogh on a museum wall, maybe they’ll be curious about experiencing that, too.”

The exhibition opened in Council Bluffs late last month and will be there through August 14th. Four entry times are available each hour. Tickets are sold online only at www.vangoghomaha.com. The tour will be returning to Iowa for a stay in the Quad Cities at a still-unspecified date.