Here’s how much it’ll cost to actually see Van Gogh’s major paintings

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Here’s a rough estimate of what an international Van Gogh tour would cost you, comparing round-trip economy tickets and mid-range hotels across major cities. Illustration by JL JAVIER

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Few post-impressionists have adapted to contemporary life as seamlessly as Vincent Van Gogh. There’s a certain approachability to his work — you don’t need a degree in art criticism to appreciate his bold strokes, his vivid use of color. But for some people, viewing “Almond Blossoms” on Google Images just isn’t “real” enough. Perhaps they would rather book a flight to Amsterdam and squint at it from five feet away.

But traveling for art’s sake simply isn’t feasible for many of us. Air fares are expensive, and accommodations can drain the pocket just as fast. This doesn’t make our appreciation for art any less valid; we’re just limited by the elitist constraints still endemic to the art world. To give you a better idea of how inaccessible art can get, here’s a rough estimate of what an international Van Gogh tour would cost you, comparing round-trip economy tickets and mid-range hotels across major cities (not including food, pocket money, and pasalubong allowance for the whole office).

Van Gogh's "The Starry Night." Photo from WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

New York

Three of Van Gogh’s most popular masterpieces are on display in New York City. To see them, drop approximately ₱36,000 to ₱50,000 on air fare. A U.S. Tourist Visa will cost you ₱8,640, not to mention the stress of navigating that grueling application process. An average hotel in the Big Apple will deplete your savings by around ₱13,000 per night, because the city is hungry and tourists are its prey.

You can find “The Starry Night” (1889), arguably Van Gogh’s most iconic work, at The Museum of Modern Art, which charges around ₱1,300 for an entrance fee. Over at The Metropolitan Museum of New York, pay another ₱1,300 to view “Wheat Field with Cypresses” (1889) and “Self Portrait with a Straw Hat” (1887). If you have any spare change left, you can buy some key chains as pasalubong.

Total: ₱59,000-₱73,000

Van Gogh's "Irises." Photo from WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Los Angeles

Admission is free at the J. Paul Getty Museum, where you can see the Van Gogh classic, “Irises” (1889). But it’s also in LA, one of the most obscenely expensive cities in the world. A flight will cost around ₱45,000 to ₱50,000, plus the tourist visa cost of ₱8,640. A hotel will cost anywhere from ₱10,000 to ₱15,000 a night.

Total: ₱69,000 to ₱74,000

Van Gogh's self-portrait. Photo from WIKIMEDIA COMMONS


A flight to Paris will cost you around ₱36,000 to ₱44,000, and a Schengen Visa, which will grant you entry into several European countries, including France, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands, is around ₱3,700, depending on which embassy you will apply to (and how long your stay will be). 

Hotels in the city are in the ballpark of ₱10,000 a night, and if you add ₱705 on top of that round little figure, you can see Van Gogh’s wispy, arresting “Self-portrait” (1889) at the Musée d’Orsay.

Total: ₱50,305 - ₱58,305

Van Gogh's "The Yellow House." Photo from WIKIMEDIA COMMONS


If you’re looking to take in as much Van Gogh as you can on a single trip, Amsterdam is the place to go. A voyage to the land that blooms with tulips and cannabis costs ₱36,000 to ₱43,000. If you already came from Paris or a neighboring European country, you'll only have to worry about train tickets or a significantly less expensive plane fare to travel to another country (but the catch is the fares are in Euro, which is a more expensive currency). Hotels will charge around ₱10,000 a night.

The Van Gogh Museum, the largest collection of the artist’s work in the world, has an entrance fee of around ₱1,000. At the museum, you'll get to see “Almond Blossoms” (1890), “Potato Eaters” (1885), “Sunflowers” (1889), “Bedroom in Arles” (1999), “The Yellow House” (1888), and “Wheatfield with Crows” (1890).

Total: ₱47,000 - ₱54,000

Van Gogh's "At Eternity's Gate." Photo from WIKIMEDIA COMMONS


The quaint village of Otterlo in the Netherlands might not seem like it’s worth a stopover on your pricey Dutch escapade, but it’s actually home to the world’s second largest collection of Van Gogh paintings. If you're already in Amsterdam, traveling to Otterlo will cost you around ₱810 - ₱1,687 for a train and bus ticket. For ₱1,100, you can see “Cafe Terrace at Night” (1888), “At Eternity’s Gate” (1890), and more at the Kröller-Müller Museum.

Total: ₱1,810 - ₱2,787

For those of us who don't think it practical to embark on an indulgent European museum tour, or simply don't have the means, we've got an alternative. Van Gogh Alive, an exhibit of the artist’s works rendered in stunning detail on multiplex screens, will be opening at One Bonifacio High Street on Oct. 26. Tickets for adults are ₱750, while children and students can enter for ₱450. It's not free, and arguably not as accessible as it would be in an ideal world, but until we fully dismantle the classist structures that pervade many art circles, it's an option. The photo ops shouldn't be too bad either.