Museums have always allowed visitors to interact with art—but a museum trend started in South Korea is taking that interaction to a whole new level.
3-D museums, where optical illusions allow visitors to literally interact with and participate in the art, are becoming popular in Asia, particularly in Korea and China. “It is a booming market with new openings in China and Thailand. Competition is building but it’s healthy,” said Winston Lo, director of strategy and finance at HK 3-D Museum. HK 3-D opened in the busy Tsim Sha Tsui district of Hong Kong in July and aims to attract 400,000 visitors within the first year.
The 3-D art craze began in Singapore with the Trickeye Museum and the Alive Museum, both of which have since expanded exponentially. The appeal, according to museum staff, is the way visitors are able to interact with the art they see.
“Photo-taking is the main activity for Asian tourists, [so] 3-D museums are quite the perfect destination,” said Mandy Foo, marketing manager of Trickeye Museum. And where there are photos, there’s social media. As more people visit, more photos are taken, and more photos are shared, leading to more visitors.
“In Hong Kong, smartphones are a way of life,” said Lo, “so news spread quickly through social media, which is how many people know about us. When their friends upload pictures they find hilarious, they want to come.” At roughly $20 per person per visit, the financial intake adds up quickly.
3-D museums use three kinds of art to engage visitors: trick art, popular during the Baroque era, which incorporates 3-D painting techniques and tricks the eye; digital art, using modern technology; and object art, which engages the senses in an immersive experience. Some museums, such as the Alive Museum, have their own research and development team, ensuring that they learn of the newest techniques and trends right as they happen. In addition, 30% of the collections are refreshed every year, giving visitors plenty of opportunities to pose not only with larger-than-life babies and in origami boats, but also with special exhibits themed for major holidays like Christmas and Chinese New Year.
It remains to be seen whether or not these museums will catch on outside of Asia, but as attention and popularity continues to grow, 3-D art museums could become the newest worldwide fad in art museum interaction.