If you’ve spent any significant time in NYC of late, you may have noticed a trend; an artistic movement that we at RawSpace we like to fondly call “the museum of…” trend. Hop on to your favorite NYC travel blog and you quickly find listing after listing of museums dedicated to pretty much anything the mind can cook up; artists of every level of fame or obscurity, niches both broad and specific, if you can name a topic, chances are there’s a museum dedicated to it. Whether it’s the “Museum of Ice Cream” in Soho or Greenwich Village’s new “Museum of Illusions”, this “museum of” trend has clearly exploded across the city and is an example of the possibility and promise that short term pop-up locations are offering to NYC artists, designers, and exhibitors.
While there is still so much development possibility when it comes to the artistic utilization of pop-up spaces, if there’s one thing we know for sure- it’s that this “museum of” trend is directly linked to the proliferation of Instagram in both our art, culture, and zeitgeist. These museums are branded clearly as immersive experiences and are designed to be both experienced internally and then photographically shared with the world, allowing exhibitors to harness the viral nature of the popular app to drive traffic and to use social media as an inexpensive marketing device.
However, it would not be accurate or fair to say that these “museums” are simply Instagram traps, designed specifically to coax millennials into entering their doors and paying the price of admission. The brand “museum” is specifically chosen, and it seems as if this is an important factor in the mission statement and design of these events. A museum implies that the space holds a greater mission of some kind of variety, and is first and foremost dedicated to challenging, inspiring, and educating its patrons. And many of these spaces are doing exactly that.
While some may take offense with comparing a Museum of Ice Cream with great bastions of art like the MOMA, what we seem to be looking at is a greater democratization and specification of the term “museum”. Pop-up spaces are specifically designed for short term engagements in mind. Many of these “Museum of” events are engineered to only fill the attention of its audience for a few weeks to a few months. They are not comparing, nor attempting to compete with, the great NYC museums that have fueled the artistic and intellectual heartbeat of the city for decades. Rather, they are complementing these museums with short term sprint experiences that allow their audiences to open their minds to something new, to experience something so far out of the ordinary and plant seeds of curiosity and intellectualism that will pay dividends well into the future.
Ultimately, “the museum of” trend, plays into the impulses we think have made the entire pop-up movement so successful and groundbreaking. They are specific, they are exciting, they both challenge and inspire our patrons to grow, and they are hopefully by our estimation here to stay as a fixture of NYC for many years to come.