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Canada's art lovers head to drive-in for safe Van Gogh exhibition

Canada's art lovers head to drive-in for safe Van Gogh exhibition

While some museums have had to cancel or postpone long-planned exhibits because of the coronavirus pandemic, organisers of a Vincent van Gogh show in Toronto, Canada, had a novel idea: offer art lovers a drive-in option.

"We had to think creatively because of Coivd-19," said Corey Ross, a co-producer of the exhibition, which was initially slated to start in May but was delayed by the pandemic.

As Canada's largest city gradually comes out of lockdown, the show began this week with two viewing areas in a huge Toronto warehouse: one area with social distancing circles on the ground for those who prefer taking in their art on foot, and another for people in cars that drive right into the building.

Viewing art from inside a car provides a safe experience for people who are physically fragile, fearful of the virus or vulnerable.

It is a unique experience, said Ross.

"You've never had an experience like this in your car," said Ross. "The feeling is almost as if the car is floating through the art."

The show was set up in collaboration with the creators of "Van Gogh, Starry Night," a hugely popular exhibit presented last year at l'Atelier des Lumieres in Paris, France.

Cruising in a Plymouth

The Toronto show features a similar digital concept. Works by the Dutch painter are projected in high definition on walls and floors.

The warehouse has space for up to about 10 cars at a time parking in designated spots.

Car engines stay off during the projection of the artworks, which is accompanied by music. The paintings are positioned so people can see them through their windscreens.

Some people take photographs with their children in their lap while they spend 35 minutes in the bold and intense world of Van Gogh.

Jessica Counti, 17, went with her family for the first drive-in edition on Friday to celebrate her sister's birthday.

"It's a really immersive experience that you can't  get in a regular art gallery. I appreciate that, even though we can't walk around the artworks," she said.

Visitor, Patrick Corcoran took in the show from behind the steering wheel of his vintage 1950 Plymouth.

"The whole thing of sitting in your car and being out and enjoying the art - it was comfortable and safe. With all the stuff going on in the world during the pandemic it was an experience. It was great."

Ross said the idea is turning out to be a hit, but will be temporary.

"If you're a car enthusiast, it's a very special moment," he said.

"I think as soon as there's an opportunity for the public to go back to experiencing art in the way we love to, in groups and beside other people, where you can talk and see strangers and see how they react and be part of a community, I think we will go back to that," Ross said.

The art hall for cars is booked almost solid through its end on August 9.

The show will remain open to pedestrians through September.