Why Did a Giant Floating Head of van Gogh Come to Pittsburgh?

Yes, it's a publicity stunt. But that doesn't mean it wasn't fun to watch.

It’s not every day you see a 92-foot-tall balloon capturing the likeness of Vincent van Gogh floating over the city. As promised, the balloon landed Friday morning on Oakland’s Flagstaff Hill before floating over the neighborhood for two hours.  

The aerial visit of Dutch Post-Impressionist artist is the brainchild of Lighthouse Immersive, one of the producers of the Immersive van Gogh exhibition, along with Impact Museums. The traveling show has been on display since October, occupying a converted warehouse at 720 E. Lacock St. on the North Side.

The first 100 people to snap a picture of this unique balloon – it shouldn’t be hard to miss – and post it on social media will win a pair of tickets to the immersive exhibit.

“We are so excited to bring the great Van Gogh balloon to a city that we love deeply,” said Vito Iaia, Impact Museums producer, in a press release. “In our short time here already, we have felt so much love from Pittsburgh — and we want to do as much as possible to celebrate Pittsburgh in a larger than life way.”

The balloon has marked extensions and reopenings of exhibits across North America, having made recent stops over a field of sunflowers in suburban Chicago and on the banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. Pittsburgh is one of its first few stops as it travels across the U.S. on its way to Los Angeles.


“Vincent has been touring North America to the excitement of many,” said Corey Ross, co-producer of Immersive Van Gogh, in the release. “We hope he brightens Pittsburgh’s day. People seem to relate to him and appreciate the beauty he brought to the world with his artwork.”

The Immersive Van Gogh exhibit is currently in 17 cities with more in the works, featuring 300,000 cubic feet of projections animating the artist’s famed oeuvre. It includes Les Mangeurs de pomme de terre (The Potato Eaters, 1885), La Nuit étoilée (Starry Night, 1889), Les Tournesols (Sunflowers, 1888), La Chambre à coucher (The Bedroom, 1889) and more.

For tickets, check out the exhibit’s website.

(Updated 9:20 a.m. Dec. 10)

Categories: The 412