The first ever selfie museum has opened in Manila, Philippines. At the Art In Island Museum, there are essentially no rules. The visitors are encouraged to touch, climb and interact with the artworks and installations. More importantly, they are encouraged to take selfies with all of the art on display.
The museum features different “zones” of art that encompass various topics, from famous masterpieces to the animal kingdom. It is important to note that all of the artworks displayed are recreations. Nothing on display is of significant historical value. With the nonexistent risk of permanent damage to famous masterpieces, curators are able to create a carefree environment for viewers that cannot found anywhere else in the world.
There is something refreshing about this counter-cultural art institution. It takes the current museum code of conduct and turns it upside down. Blyth Cambaya, the corporate secretary of the musem told Mashable, “Here, art paintings are not complete … if you don’t take your pictures with them.”
Human interaction with the exhibits is absolutely essential, which is a concept in the art world usually reserved only for more modern performance art. The entire project is based on the idea of letting people express themselves and goof around in an artistic environment.
In the midst of the news of the selfie museum, other institutions have been facing intense criticism on the rigid codes of conduct they enforce. There are no selfies allowed in many respected galleries and museums. Viewers are certainly not allowed to touch, climb upon or “interact” with the art in any way that does not consist solely of looking at it from an appropriate distance. This new selfie museum appears to be a direct response to the criticism and has caused the public to think harshly of other artistic institutions.
That being said, this museum is not necessarily an “art” museum. It serves a very different purpose than other established galleries and museums. It isn’t really about art at all. It stands at the crossroad of current culture, society and art. It does not exist for the purpose of art appreciation but rather to create a memorable experience for a given audience. Therefore, the criticism that other pre-existing art museums have received for forbidding selfies and viewer interaction is not at all justified. Those museums must be strict in order to protect the masterpieces housed there.
I’m all for a new kind of museum, as long as it is not classified in the same way that other museums are. This museum should not be viewed as an improved version of classic art museums and galleries. It is a refreshing, fun and light-hearted institution that will only expand and enhance the range of viewer experiences that are available to the public today. However, it is an entirely separate entity than something like the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is another step in the evolution of art, but it does not show the work of famous artists who have truly changed the way art is made. While the selfie museum certainly seems worth a visit, it is a new method of art production and appreciation that co-exist with the already established galleries and museums in order to have any longevity.