This week, I went to the opening of the Happy Place museum in Chicago. Billed as an instagrammers paradise, this pop up museum is a traveling roadshow of bright lights and whimsical rooms. To be honest, I had never heard of the Happy Place pop up. The premise seemed peculiar, but so many people I spoke with were really excited to attend. So, when contributor Shilpa and I were invited, we decided to attend.
What is The Happy Place Museum?
The Happy Place is billed as a museum. When I think of a museum, I think of a place that showcases the history of a particular place, person, building, or topic. The Happy Place Museum showcases different ways to take photos and selfies. Is this something that needs to be documented outside of social media? Thankfully, the Happy Place pop up is just that; a pop up museum, meaning it is temporary. There is no point, in my opinion, why anyone would need to visit to learn anything about pop art or anything beyond the narcissism of the Millenial generation. Art installations may have the artist’s name listed, but with people stacking up behind you waiting for you to take your shot, how can you even notice? You have to get your photos, get in, and get on to the next room. Or the next line to the next room, depending on how many people there are walking through.
A $30 Happy Place Pop Up
There are so many things that I could spend $30 on. I could buy a delicious lunch from The Craftsman in Naperville, for both my husband and myself. Or, I could buy $30 worth of groceries. I could get a no chip manicure. I could visit SkyDeck or 360º Chicago over the weekend for less than $30. So, I think $30 is a bit steep for a building full of saccharin rooms intended to enrich a person’s Instagram account. While the mission statement of the Happy Place states that it is intended as a place to embrace and make light of the happiness available in everyday life, I found it to be the opposite. The ephemeral joy that one experiences in each room is nearly forgotten as soon as you walk through the next room.
Who is the Happy Place Pop Up for?
Why The Happy Place Pop Up Doesn’t Work in Chicago
While Los Angeles has its redeeming qualities, it is known for being fake and materialistic. Fake “reality” shows are filmed there starring people with fake teeth, fake hair, and fake…other parts. Chicago isn’t like that. People in the Midwest are more salt of the Earth. Sure, we’ve got our share of fakery, but the most iconic photos come from experiencing the parts of the city that are original and historic. The skyscrapers, the ferris wheel at Navy Pier, even the Chicago hot dog are all infamous because they were shiny and new many, many years ago. The cheesy, fleeting nature of the Happy Place museum is just too phony. And with so many uncrowded, free attractions in Chicago, the Happy Place pop up just isn’t worth the $30.