Gradually, she and her brother made their way to the exhibition’s main room, where a 35-minute movie that animates van Gogh’s greatest hits was projected on every available surface. Flowers bloomed, a train chugged by, fields slid past. The animation lingered on an image of a skeleton smoking a cigarette. “Make it make sense, philosophy major,” Ms. Ramakrishnan said, referring to her brother’s college study.
“I think it’s just, like, unappreciated genius,” he said.
After some marsh lilies and town squares and a line drawing of a bedroom in Arles (“Pictionary!” Ms. Ramakrishnan shouted), the movie ended. She and her brother stayed for the credits, then followed exit signs that deposited them at a gift shop.
Ms. Ramakrishnan perused the abundance of merch with skepticism and pleasure. She examined a van Gogh-branded jigsaw puzzle, a photo book, a candle that said, “You’re a Magical Unicorn.” She wondered what van Gogh would think and whether he would want royalties.
“It’s so crazy how he was not appreciated in his time and now it’s like, wait, what?”
Through double doors, Ms. Ramakrishnan stepped back into the humid morning. No rat appeared, but she did get to see a garbage barge chug by. “Nifty,” she said. Three young fans breathlessly approached her. Then a mother and two daughters. She posed for pictures with all of them.