By Grace Billiski
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
In a world with social media on the rise, businesses get most of their publicity through all the different types. Users share photos, hashtags, and locations with friends to publicize where they are and what they are doing at that moment.
The phrase "phone eats first" is a perfect example of how new generations are going out to eat, by taking pictures of their meal to share with others before they try themselves. Restaurants with mood lighting and funny chalkboards are among the most popular, mainly for their social media appeal. Places with colorful walls, neon light signs and more get the most traffic, as people are drawn to a good picture opportunity.
A new trend among big cities is "Instagram Playgrounds," a place where Instagram and photography fanatics can come to a building with an aesthetically pleasing background and fun furniture. Instagram Playgrounds are an interactive experience with plenty of opportunities for visitors to take Instagram-worthy pictures. Every Instagram Playground is a pop-up museum lasting in each city only for a limited time. Most to all Instagram Playgrounds are museums that include several interactive rooms with props and backgrounds made for visitors to share through social media. The experience is meant to be shareable, which benefits both the visitor and the museums themselves. Each picture, tag or shout-out gives the Instagram Playgrounds a better chance to thrive, as they are essentially having users advertise for them.
Dream Machine popped up in Brooklyn this past April. The museum is "inspired by dreams, made for reality." This Playground included a monochromatic blue ball pit, neon lights and signs and floating clouds. For a limited time, visitors were able to have their dreams become a reality. For the month of October, Dream Machine closed and became Nightmare Machine in the same New York City location, allowing horror fans' dreams to come true. Complete with coffins, gravestones, and gore, Dream Machine transformed into an immersive horror experience for Instagram lovers, minus scary clowns jumping out of walls.
In the same building as the original Dream Machine, Nightmare Machine took what once was a happy, colorful set and made it into a darker version. The laundromat room that used to be filled with pink colors and clean washing machines, became an abandoned laundromat with dark colors and hidden hallways. Nightmare Machine was the perfect opportunity for someone looking for a Halloween experience, and pictures from it, without having to go to a haunted house. What comes next for Dream Machine is up in the air, but for now pictures from Nightmare and Dream Machine will continue to fill up Instagram feeds everywhere.
Photo courtesy of Instagram
Ariana Grande recently teamed up with Spotify to create "Sweetener the Experience," a museum allowing fans to immerse themselves into her music and music videos. For one weekend only, the exhibit held in NYC was an interactive experience for her fans. Every room corresponded to a song from her album "Sweetener." This is the first artist exhibit that Spotify has put on. Grande walked through the exhibit herself and took pictures in each room, once fans took their own pictures, they could feel even more connected to their favorite artist. Fans were able to pose in front of the "God is a Woman" wall, essentially putting themselves into her music video, as well as listen to inspiring messages from the telephone wall in the "Get Well Soon" room.
The Museum of Ice Cream in Manhattan started it all. Back in 2016, Museum of Ice Cream opened its doors to the public for an experience fueled by imagination. The pink walls that surround this museum were picture worthy alone, but it doesn't stop there. Visitors have a chance to dive into a swimming pool of rainbow sprinkles, swing in a banana-themed room, and have ice cream tastings throughout their experience. Every wall and every surface was designed for the purpose of being Instagram-friendly, made for Instagram celebrities and regular users alike.
Photo courtesy of Instagram
New York Magic Lab, another museum located in New York City, coined itself as "NOT just another Instagram friendly experience," although it had plenty of opportunities for pictures. It is the world's first magic-themed art exhibit that is also interactive. There was a total of five interactive rooms as well as plenty of Instagram-worthy hallways leading from room to room. Not only was this museum about original magic such as playing cards and pulling bunnies out of hats, it also gave the visitor a chance to experience technology as magic. Sensor technology, augmented reality and interactive floors are among the many technological advances taken to fill the Magic Lab for a full sensory and immersive experience. This museum is Instagram-user friendly, as well as also providing traditional magic shows along with the exhibit every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Witnessing the magic up close did not last for long though, visitors had only one month for a chance to go the New York Magic Lab.
Tickets for most Instagram Playgrounds range from about $18 to as much as $70. Visitors expect inclusion and are willing to pay for it.
"I would pay for the experience itself if it is truly interesting, not just for the pictures" Rebecca Wittlin says. Wittlin frequents art museums for both the cultural aspect as well as sharing her experience with others.
Each museum has a theme designed to make the experience enjoyable, whether the visitor is there for social media purposes or not. Although these museums are not art museums with traditional art people travel to see, they still have an appeal to them that make them a destination for many different types of people.
"I would easily pay $30 to take pictures that would make me look cool or gain followers," says Laura Hess, a regular social media user. The chance to improve one's social media will always be a reason to go somewhere. Gaining followers and sharing content are a few of many reasons people join social media sites.
With all of these locations being so desirable, the crowds tend to be large. Each room has one scene for pictures that create lines of people waiting for the perfect shot. "Usually you wait in line at each photo op and take turns one by one getting your shot," states Leah Gay, a New York City resident, and seasoned Instagram Playground visitor.
Most Instagram Playgrounds and interactive museums come to each city for a few weeks to a month. This better captures attention and makes people feel the need to go before they miss out. These types of museums have changed the way people book vacations or go about their daily life. People now book prospective vacations based on if the location will have a pink wall similar to the Paul Smith pink wall on Melrose Avenue, or the Made in L.A wall. The new generations are all about doing something for the picture. Creating a singular building with multiple picture-taking opportunities is an innovative idea that will continue to spread. Instagram Playgrounds will continue to take social media by storm, tackling each big city one monochromatic ball pit at a time.
Niagara Frontier Publications works with the Niagara University Communication Studies Department to publish the capstone work of students in CMS 120A-B.
These articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of NFP, NU or the communication studies department.
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