Chicago Art Institute re-creates Van Gogh’s bedroom to rent on Airbnb

[An art exhibit recreates a famous painting of a real space and lets people live in the recreation (and experience a sense of presence) for a night. This story is from the Chicago Tribune and more coverage is available in a separate Tribune story. For more information including two videos see the Art Institute of Chicago’s website; the Airbnb listing is here.–Matthew]

Van Gogh Bedroom by Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute re-creates Van Gogh’s bedroom to rent on Airbnb

By Corilyn Shropshire, Chicago Tribune
February 11, 2016

Now you can sleep in Vincent Van Gogh’s bedroom. Well, sort of.

As part of the Art Institute of Chicago‘s new exhibit, “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms,” a replica has been created of the famous artist’s bedroom featured in his paintings. For $10, members of the public can reserve a night’s stay on the popular home-sharing website Airbnb.

The bedroom of a one-bedroom apartment in River North has been transformed (down to the brushstroke) to look just like the bedroom in the Yellow House in Arles, France, that Van Gogh so adored in the late 19th century.

Following a recommendation by its advertising team at Leo Burnett, the Art Institute leased the unit and hired a team that spent four weeks to transform the bedroom to look exactly as Van Gogh captured on canvas. For example, the blue paint on the wall and door were applied in different ways, just as they were in the paintings, according to Amanda Hicks, a museum spokeswoman. The room is as simple and sparse as the paintings, featuring a bed, two chairs and a side table. A simple towel with red trim hangs on a hook on the wall.

There is one exception, however. Van Gogh painted a twin-size bed. The real-life replica contains a full-size bed that can comfortably fit two people.

Art Institute officials wanted to provide an opportunity for the public to step into Van Gogh’s paintings, said Hicks. “It’s sort of our way to extend the experience of the exhibition,” she said. “This bedroom is a creative way to take this storytelling about Van Gogh’s human side and then extend that story into a real-life setting.”

The other rooms in the apartment, at an undisclosed location near State Street and Grand Avenue, are decidedly … regular. “When you open the door to the bedroom, that’s the transition point that takes you into the painting,” said Hicks. Guests have access to the entire apartment, including use of a modern-day kitchen and living-room area, and also receive two tickets to the museum exhibit.

The exhibit is bringing together three distinct paintings of Van Gogh’s beloved bedroom in an exhibit that will also display 36 works by the artist. The exhibition runs from Sunday through May 10.

Snagging a night in the bedroom isn’t easy. All February dates sold out in a matter of hours, Hicks said. Interested parties should pay close attention to the Art Institute of Chicago’s social media accounts to catch when the museum will begin accepting reservations for March. Reservations will cascade each month until the exhibit closes, according to Hicks. She did not disclose the price tag on leasing and transforming the River North apartment.

If you can’t get a reservation, you can always visit a second re-creation of the bedroom that is on display with the exhibit at the Art Institute, Hicks said.


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