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Selfie Museums: The modern day phenomenon

March 12, 2021Milena

At this point, it’s safe to call the latest decade an era of Instagram. The past 10 years have been significantly influenced, with no way of return, by what initially appeared to be a simple startup and later became the most well known social media with over 854.5 MILLION users. A simple photo-sharing app gave birth to ideas that transpired to our language (the word “instagrammable”, used as an equivalent of photogenic), our lives (scheduling photo sessions purposely for instagram), our businesses (creating a completely new job of Instagram influencers) and now even into the world of museums. Selfie museums are the new trend all around the world, with more and more creative spaces intended for those who want to have a nice location for their instagram pictures. What exactly are selfie museums and what will it imply? Keep reading to find out.

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The story behind selfie museums

The idea of creating visual spaces purposely for taking pictures first came from the United States. However, the initial plan wasn’t to establish permanent facilities, but rather occasional pop up temporary experiences in style of art exhibitions. Even though the first event was launched in 2015, people needed time to adjust to the new reality and even though per 2021 there are tons of newly established selfie museums opening all around the world, the phenomenon is yet to be widely spread in the popular culture.
The first permanent selfie museum called Museum of Ice Cream (also in the United States) debuted in the summer of 2016 and stole the hearts of thousands of young people (charging as much as $38 per ticket).

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But what actually are selfie museums?

A selfie museum, otherwise also called Instagram museum (who would have guessed), is meant to be a creative installation of designs with curated color palettes, themes, artistic ideas which sole purpose is to look good on the pictures. Anyone can easily purchase the ticket, pose around the establishment and get insta-worthy (another word that transpired into our vocabulary) shots for their gram. The facilities are usually equipped in light equipment as well, for the best photo results of their visitors. Most of the time, the selfie museums are kept in bright colors, colorful props and optical illusions. The most common themes feature ice creams, bath tubes, foam pools – just to name a few.

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I went to one… and here’s my opinion

When I’ve heard about this new phenomenon, I was curious to visit one of the selfie museums on my own without any initial prejudices and only then decide what I will think about it. Since I already had a trip to Zakopane (Poland) planned, I decided to include the new local Be Happy! Museum, a chain that has already opened 4 different Be Happy facilities all around Poland. The price (35 PLN, more or less $9) seemed to be more reasonable in comparison to its predecessors.

The exhibition was almost entirely pink, with the exception of a few yellow/brownish areas, and featured mostly unicorns, ice creams (told ya) and… hanging from the ceiling bananas. Some of the illusions were very creative, yet most of the time it looked like it came directly from a Barbie ad.

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Personally, I think that maybe I’m just not the target audience of selfie museums, since there was maybe 1 decent picture that I wouldn’t be ashamed to post on my social media (and for someone like me, that’s a lot to say), but maybe someone younger or with a more fun approach to social media than me (well, I might be boring) could actually enjoy it. Even though, I’m sure that there are tons of art installations in your city or grafittis that could do even a better job. And maybe make you appear more intellectual and less… fake? BUT I am not the judge of the world, this is just my personal opinion, and if you think that you would enjoy an experience in a selfie museum – then have fun! I’m happy for you. However, there is one thing that worries me more than a $9 ticket or a sweet social media appearance.

What do these types of innovations mean for our future?

This kind of innovations are creating a new trend in the society that I’m pretty sure is not going to lead us in any right direction. I miss the beginning of Instagram when people were actually sharing photos of their real lives, their memorable moments and lifestyles. Now, only 10 years later, we are intentionally driving to places just to snap a picture for our instagram, we then post produce them and edit them in a way that they don’t even resemble the reality anymore, and now we even create establishments where people pay specifically to take a few completely fake photos for their social media profiles. What are we promoting? Fakeness? Media lies? Hiding our lives behind props and foam forms? With the world going in this direction so quickly, I’m scared to think about what is going to happen next, especially since being a psychologist by profession I can see the impact this kind of lifestyle has on people.

Of course, there will be a lot of people who will take our fun out of these kind of experiences and it’s not right to completely condemn selfie museums, but if we don’t stop the constant growth of meaning we give to the social media platforms in comparison to our real lives, the results can be catastrophic, even just in as little as 20 years from now.

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I would love to hear your own opinions on selfie museums & the instagram phenomenons that are bombarding our world right now, so please leave a comment or connect with me on my social media: Instagram @milenacorleoneofficial | Instagram @ship.me.there | Pinterest @lenacorleone | Twitter @milenacorleone

All the photos were taken in Be Happy! Museum Zakopane.

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