Posted on Monday June 29, 2015

Updated on Friday June 12, 2020


Find and release your inner Van Gogh

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VanGoYourself is a different and surprisingly deep way for visitors to engage with heritage, based on emotion, playfulness and curiosity. Recreate a painting or historic photo with your friends, then upload and share your photograph, twinned with the original, for others to enjoy.

The service, built on the WordPress platform, is free and very simple to use by everyone with a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. Simply choose an artwork to recreate. Take and upload a picture, and the service will twin it with the original. You can then share your new Van Gogh through your preferred digital channels.

Tired of just looking at paintings? 

The service can also be used by tourist offices, museums, cities, tour guides, etc. to promote specific destinations, sites and events. was successfully launched during the Museums at Night / International Museums Day on May 15, 2014, and introduced to the world through three VanGoYourself (VGY) events organised with the help of Culture24 and in the UK and in Luxembourg.

At the time of launch, users could recreate more than 50 paintings, from 12 collections. Most of the items are from Europeana. The media response was overwhelming (BBC, Telegraph, Newsweek, artsnet, etc.) with around 40 articles on VGY. It also went viral on social media with a Twitter reach of around five million potential users during the launch weekend, according to tweetbinder stats.

Building the case for sharing masterpieces

The Tourism Pilot encountered challenges related to content and content sourcing. Often it is only a few masterpieces that build the fame of a huge collection. Unfortunately, this “last one percent” is often not made available by providers via Europeana. Or the items have rights statements that do not allow reuse.

This pilot could change all that. Its tremendous success has helped to build a case for opening up a collection for reuse by creative industries and the tourism sector.

The Challenge Event for the Tourism and Social Networks themes took place in September 2014 in Barcelona. In January 2015 the “Embed VanGoYourself On Your Site” widget was launched. It allows users to embed either a single re-creation or choose a feed of VanGo’d images. A VanGoYourself shop has been set up on the CafePress platform where VGY merchandising articles are available. The team is also negotiating promising partnerships with museums and city marketing initiatives all over the world.

The twinning tool is also available for developers as a WordPress plugin: