If you have not been to a pop-up museum, you probably have seen other people posting about it on Instagram. Posts that attract millions of likes can be anything from a pink room with a giant swimming pool filled with candies and sprinkles to colorful popsicles that got stuck on the walls. Each room is usually its own exhibition: colorful, sparkling, and fashionable. 

Unlike traditional museums that display historical art and only allow viewers to look at the exhibition, pop-up museums are temporary exhibitions of pop art that encourage viewers’ interaction with the space. At these museums, people can feel free to jump into a pool full of sprinkles and flash their cameras as much as they want without being scolded by security. Visitors pay twenty to forty dollars for a ticket to have the experience of being an Instagram star. According to blooloop.com, The Museum of Ice Cream, a popular pop-up museum, sold 30,000 tickets in five days. Clearly, going to these museums is a popular trend. People chase after this new form of entertainment and do not want to be left behind in fashion. On the surface, these pretty and eye-catching attractions appeal to us easily, but they often lack a deeper meaning.

Without the distance between viewer and art, as typical of traditional museums, a sense of mystery disappears. People stop wondering about the meaning behind the art because they regard these garish installations simply as the background for their pictures. To me, pop-up museums have shifted the viewers’ focus from the exhibition to themselves. Observers have started to care less about the beauty within the artwork and have spent their time at a pop-up trying to figure out what pose would make them look better in photos. After seeing countless posts of pop-up museums, I view these places as Instagram-worthy picture spots instead of places for me to slow down and digest the meaning behind the installation. Under the rapid advancement of technology, even art has become an object for fast consumption. People become impatient with things around them—they scroll through pictures on their screens just like how they never take another look at the art once they get their perfect shots. 

Contemplating the pop-up museum phenomenon, I feel sad for the Instagram generation. They think they have fun chasing after the trend and gaining people’s attention through exposing themselves on social media, but they do not realize that they just have been trying to fill up the void in their hearts with more invisible and pointless things. Why wait in a two-hour line just to take some cool pictures when you could have gone on a road trip with family and friends? Why sit there scrolling through social media when you could have read an interesting book?

I believe that we should look to and visit other places that can shift our attention to other and more meaningful things, like traditional museums and nature, to name a few. How other people think of us on social media does not matter because we are not just living shells. We need to preserve the “real” in our lives, especially since we encounter so much of the “superficial.”

Photo credit: Forbes.com and Katie Gibbs