As the world begins to redefine interaction, the recently reopened “selfie museum” at CambridgeSide, a shopping center located by the Charles River, “GoPixelYourself,” offers a creative solution for visitors to safely enjoy and interact with an artistic space.
With 13 different rooms and 9 million pixels, or small units making up a digital image, the museum produces an interactive, entertaining experience for visitors with an Instagrammable twist— using motion-activated technology to take photos and videos that guests can take home.
GoPixelYourself reopened Feb. 12 — after initially opening last November — boasting features such as a virtual blizzard and a Boeing 747 in 12,000 square feet of space and 4,000 feet of video wall. The experience was created by Parker 3D, a technology-driven design team based out of New Jersey.
John Carter, CEO of Parker 3D and the creative behind GoPixelYourself, said he has been an installation artist and street artist since the ’80s. The popularity of “selfies” inspired him to leverage his experience and create something new, he said.
“When I figured out that you could do installation art … and invite people to take selfies in it and that was a new way for younger people to appreciate that kind of work,” Carter said, “I decided I really wanted to do it.”
Carter said Parker 3D has produced these exhibits in shopping malls and for companies such as DreamWorks and Sony.
He said the budget to create the exhibit was around $4 million, which allowed the team to create a completely immersive environment — for instance, the first exhibit takes visitors through a simulation airplane.
“You’re actually getting inside of an airplane with real airplane parts, and there’s a giant screen at the front and all of this content that we developed is going by on the windows,” he said. “You get great pictures, but it’s also very entertaining.”
What distinguishes GoPixelYourself from other selfie museums, Carter said, is its theatrical, entertaining atmosphere.
“It’s like going to a Broadway show,” he said, “except you get to be the star.”
Carter said the museum has embraced visitors from a diverse spectrum of demographics and backgrounds.
“The most interesting part is the people who are coming in, in my opinion,” Carter said, “We’re getting people of all ages, all races, all different economic levels, and everybody really enjoys it.”
He calls it a “place for grown-ups to pretend,” which he said is especially important given the pandemic’s toll on everyone.
After being shut down with other businesses during the pandemic, GoPixelYourself has implemented intense safety measures to protect visitors, Carter said.
The safety measures include separating groups, disinfecting between visits, temperature checks and hand sanitizer stations. Though visitors can take off their masks in front of the contact-free cameras, at all other times they must be on, Carter said.
He added the pandemic also prompted the museum to revise some of the initial designs. For example, he said they decided to shift touch screen cameras into barcodes for visitors to take pictures.
In terms of the museum’s audience, he said college students are an ideal demographic.
“Taking selfies is something that college-age students do anyway,” he said. “College-age students would definitely be somebody who probably feels most comfortable in this kind of environment.”
Melissa LaVita, the senior marketing director at CambridgeSide, said she believes GoPixelYourself makes for a unique experience in the city.
“We definitely thought it would be something that Bostonians would love,” LaVita said. “We’ve had some in Boston, but nothing like this … and I think the college students especially will love it.”
Anna Malygin, a sophomore at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, said exploring new places in Boston can help foster new memories and experiences, even with the pandemic.
“It’s good to go out there and explore as much as you can of the city, even if it’s a little bit more challenging now,” she said. “because if you just stay in the room, it’s not going to give you as much as a rich experience in college.”