The biggest art trend in Dallas this summer? Photo pop-ups. Whether in Uptown, Deep Ellum, Walnut Hill or Mockingbird Station, Dallas is certainly not short of opportunities for the ultimate Instagram photo-op. The latest one comes in the form of the Museum of Memories, opening today in downtown Dallas, with a planned run until the end of August. The Museum of Memories was founded by Steffi Lynn Tsai, alongside her brother and a childhood friend. Tsai conceived the photo pop-up with the mission to evoke happiness within each of the museum’s visitors.
“The Museum of Memories is an interactive art exhibit with multiple installations,” Tsai says. “Inside, there are about eight rooms. Each room has individual staples inside. It’s a place where I wanted people to come in and feel nostalgic. It’s supposed to be very positive and happy. I wanted to create something where people of all ages can come in and have a good time.”
Tsai, 24, tailored much of the museums to be reminiscent of her childhood memories, with exhibit spaces bedecked with elements of ‘90s and 2000s culture. Quotes and memorabilia from classic teen movies like Clueless and Mean Girls can be found throughout the museum, as well as lyrics from iconic ‘90s and 2000s pop anthems.
Tsai, who is a graduate of the Pratt Institute in New York, began working on freelance art projects while in college. She has since grown her résumé to boast incredible feats, and the opening of the pop-up marks another milestone for her.
“I’ve always been interested in being in the creative field,” Tsai says. “I’ve always known that I wanted to make stuff and build things. This is my biggest exhibit yet. I’m used to working for music festivals and doing event installations, which is also fast-paced build and production work. Everything in the museum is hand-painted by me and designed by me. There are some props that we outsourced, but anything with paint on it and anything that has art on it was done by me.”
In addition to movie- and music-themed rooms, the Museum of Memories also has a coloring book-themed room with black and white coloring templates covering the walls and giant crayons for visitors to pose with. There is also a cereal-and-cartoons room, serving as a tribute to '90s Saturday morning cartoons. No matter where you turn in the Museum of Memories, there is opportune space for a good picture.
“I think a lot of pop-ups tend to only have certain corners that are like, ‘Here’s where you take a photo,’” Tsai says. “If you look on Instagram, and you see people’s posts from certain exhibits, you always see the same backdrops from the same angles. I want people to come in and have a million options. I want them to turn 360 and look at every corner and see that everything is painted and filled.”
Entrance to the Museum of Memories costs $25 and gets each ticket holder an hour of walk-through time. During the hour, museum attendees are encouraged to take as many photos as they please.
Tsai hopes to inspire joy in all attendees, not just millennials.
“We wanted something everyone could relate to,” Tsai says. “There’s no way people can’t relate to growing up, so we thought that would be perfect. It’s something appealing to people of all genders and all ages. As an artist, I create stuff that’s motivating and positive. I just want people to come in, have a good time and enjoy themselves.”
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.