Museum of Memories
Sunday afternoon as the Texas weather continues to be unpredictable, I’m driving towards Dallas’ Deep Ellum area searching for the newest Immersive Art Gallery called The Museum of Memories. It’s not my first experience looking at open spaces transformed into colorful backdrops with quirky props and overly sized items that let’s both children and adults be entertained taking cell phone photos for a good hour or two. It has been a long time personal mission of mine as a photographer to scope out all the latest areas where I can send families to for a photo session or for a blogger’s newest backdrop. The Museum of Memories caught my eye through Instagram where I noticed that everything was hand painted.
The museum opened earlier this summer with bright large spaces that create larger than life rooms that pay homage to popular TV shows, music, and throwbacks to the 90s. You’ll find a giant bowl of cereal that reminds you of Lucky Charms while you get cuts of recognizable glimpses of Cartoons like Spongebob and Dexter’s Laboratory. You’ll see walls inspired by coloring books, polaroids, and fun retro items like the game Connect Four. Created by siblings and co-founders, Steffi Lynn Tsai and Stefan Tsai, I learned how the Museum of Memories was inspired by the millennial nostalgia of their childhood. The two Austin, Texas natives have different backgrounds that played to the successful up-start using in their own individual talents. With Stefan (26) and Steffi (24), the brother and sister duo brainstormed how to take their memories and share it to the public.
From conception to completion, I was impressed to see that the Tsais were able to finish with a two month span of time. After checking out other DFW art spaces, the M.O.M. wanted to make sure that everyone could have a good time making it very clear that room for a good shot was important. Every nook and cranny is touched by bright pastel colors and splashes of fun phrases like “You Got it Dude” - a nod to the famous American sitcome, “Full House” or lyrics from the girl group Destiny’s Child. You can’t possibly walk away without getting at least one photo. I personally appreciated the local touches on the coloring book side wall where you’ll find little pictures of classic Texas things and words which make the experience more personal.
As I chat over the phone with Steffi who currently lives in Brooklyn as an illustrator, I learn about the challenges of creating something that looks relatively easy. Often flying into Dallas, Steffi worked late nights with her friends who helped paint and build the Museum. She mentions that she discovered how to be “flexible” when it came to making all the props and having to re-evaluate how to approach certain problems. "There’s no handbook to make a giant diary.” she laughs when referencing one of the spaces the team made. Each item in that room is special as she recalls the fuzzy pen and the lava lamps - items that were in her own room growing up.
One of Stefan’s favorite aspects of the Museum are the three monotoned rooms at the end of the hall. Decked in primary pastel colors, each room reminds you of a home but made in a way that is similar to the Children’s section of an IKEA showroom. A yellow tub filled with yellow balls from a play pen, a pair of coral pink rainboots, and a soft blue chess set on the floor helps make the photos more engaging. Now living in Dallas, the co-founder isn’t new to the business of experiences. With his own Escape Room, Stefan knows a little about what it takes to make these kinds of activities fun. I notice that he greets everyone and gives a mini tour of the Museum while offering to help families get some good photos on their phones. When i request to take a photo of him, he even asks if he could check on everyone first before the shot.
As I re-circle each wall and room, I’m reminded of happy memories myself - countless diary entries detailing embarrassing anecdotes at school, playing hopscotch at recess, and turning on the tv on a Saturday morning ready to scarf down some cereal. You can’t help but smile and wish you could turn back time. This is a great space to bring the kids. I love that there is plenty of room to take a photo, tons of options for a good IG post, and especially the late hours - on the weekends they open until midnight! The Museum also offers selfie stick rentals, stickers, and matching pins for take away goodies to purchase. Make sure to visit soon - the Museum is likely only to be around until the end of August 2019. (Check out their website for more details) Although the Museum is a temporary fixture in Dallas, this does not mean the end for the Tsais. With ambitions to grow and make different memories, Steffi says, “I know I can’t make everyone happy, but I’m going to try.”