Van Gogh’s room for rent on Airbnb.

Rent a van Gogh room for the weekend

Airbnb is a highly successful company which provides property owners with the opportunity to accommodate travellers from around the globe.

Architecture & Design
Author: Lizaveta Stecko, Anna Palacz, Translation: Dostępny
Text style

Airbnb does not own its lodgings but acts as a broker that creates a platform between hosts and guests who communicate via an app. The hosts may offer the whole place, a room or even… an air bed. That is how it all actually started: in 2008 three flatmates began to rent out cheap sleeping spaces on airbeds to the tourists in the overcrowded San Francisco. This simple idea became a foundation for this thriving business, giving it also a part of the name, as the other item ‘bnb’ stands for B&B (bed and breakfast), one of the most common accommodation types. Today, the company founders are billionaires, while their dynamically evolving service is offering a growing range of places, including such extraordinary spots as a boat at the Eiffel Tower, a treehouse with the Pacific Ocean view or a Mongolian yurt.

In 2016, to promote the “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms” exhibition The Art Institute of Chicago commissioned a full-size replica of the bedroom painted by Vincent van Gogh. It recreates the “Bedroom” from 1889 to the tiniest detail. The Airbnb offer to rent a room from the painting for only $10 per night was placed on the company website and it resulted in the highest rate of museum visitors in 15 years! According to the museum representatives, authenticity is the best recipe for success, ant this was achieved thanks to the collaboration with this popular portal. The partnership was mutually beneficial, as Airbnb significantly gained on popularity and received higher recognition by being associated with the art world.

Airbnb is very popular among artists who are fond of the nomadic style of life and work. Some of them, however,  decided to use the application as a means for their art as well. Miao Jiaxin, the conceptual artist from New York, published a number of his performative projects as Airbnb offers. In his listing “Jail’s Seeking Prisoners” he would provide his spacious NY art studio for only $1 to those who… gave their consent to be recorded and live streamed online, while sitting still in a small cell for 3 hours. In another project and in another Airbnb listing, he invited people who knew each other only in the online mode to spend together 24 hours in ‘the real life’. This was also to be recorded. Even though both his experiments were removed by the Airbnb admisns, Jiaxin claimed that his offer was not only to provide a cheap accommodation but also to give an opportunity to actively co-create an artistic performance. Other artists are also seeking new ways to take advantage of Airbnb in their activities. Recently Ayden LeRoux has posted an ad offering beds covered with unorthodox materials, for example, the earth from the major work of land art – Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty.


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