van no-gogh

Immersive art company featuring high-tech shows in Houston files for bankruptcy

Immersive Van Gogh will go no more. Photo by Michael Brosilow

An innovative digital production company, Lighthouse Immersive, whose "immersive" exhibits became a buzz during the height of the pandemic, has filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy.

According to Bloomberg News, the company, which put on multiple high-profile immersive art exhibitions across the U.S. including Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio, was last profitable in 2021; but attendance dropped off after the pandemic.

Founded in Toronto in 2019, the company helped spearhead the immersive fad, first and most famously here in Houston with its 2021 Van Gogh exhibit, followed by multiple digital light shows across Houston and the U.S. including Frida Kahlo, Monet & The Impressionists, King Tut, Nutcracker, and its most recent, the immersive Disney Animation Experience.

However, in June, the company abruptly canceled the Disney show, both in Houston and Dallas — a move that appears to have been an omen of the company's financial woes. Oddly, that exhibition remains open in San Antonio through August 13.

Industry publication The Art Newspaper expressed surprise at the bankruptcy given the company's business model.

"Given the high cost of tickets ($35 a piece) and the low cost of using images that had entered the public domain, Lighthouse Immersive's operations were widely believed to be a profitable concept," says the publication.

However, these exhibits were not cheap to produce: Organizers quoted startup costs at a minimum of $1 million all the way up to $15 million to create an immersive pop-up, with expensive gear such as fiberoptic cables and Panasonic projectors.

The company has not revealed its plans nor what will happen to the venues they used in each city; they did not respond to a request for comment.


This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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