Destinations

LA is opening a Museum of Selfies – here's what you'll find inside

The interactive and immersive museum will explore the "art of self-representation" Credit: The Museum of Selfies

In the modern age of selfie sticks, photo-sharing obsessions and social media addictions, one museum is looking to embrace them all.

The Museum of Selfies - a new museum dedicated to the “science, art and culture of self representation” - is opening its camera-ready doors in California next month.

Set in Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles County just eight miles outside downtown LA, the pop-up museum (around from February 17 to April 17) aims to chart the 40,000-year history of self-portraiture and the “phenomenon of the selfie” in the era of social media – across which there are said to be more than 2.4 million selfies uploaded per day, according to the museum.

The interactive installations at the 8,000 square-foot museum will explore a range of themes with a “educational yet playful approach”, with special attention given to the much-loathed food selfie and bathroom mirror selfie.

The “high-up selfie” exhibit will feature a fake skyscraper that visitors can climb to snap a virtual vertigo-inducing rooftop selfie, while a series of original works from various artists around the world will depict the “provocative and creative vision of the selfie phenomenon”.

A modern day take on the historic Vincent Van Gogh portrait Credit: Museum of Selfies

Other anticipated highlights include a “selfie-stick throne” – a chair made of selfie sticks – and a secret work to be unveiled at the museum's opening which will be proposed for entry into the Guinness Book of World Records. 

The museum intends to explore more serious topics too with the “narcissist” exhibit, which examines the negative impact of selfies in people’s lives, as well as selfie-related deaths and other accidents.

All of the featured pieces have been commissioned by Tommy Honton and Tair Mamedov, the brains behind the museum, who are also escape room designers, and are sourced from independent and international artists.  

Selfie addicts will be glad to know selfie sticks “aren’t just allowed inside, they are encouraged”.

“The relationship between people and art has changed,” Tair Mamedov told Mashable.

“Now people don't want to just be a silent consumer, they want to be a part of the art. There are many more selfies with the Mona Lisa than actual Mona Lisas.”

The Museum of Selfies, where tickets will be priced at £18 ($25), with children under three admitted for free, isn’t the first to explore selfies as an art form. In London, The Saatchi gallery’s “From Selfie to Self-Expression” exhibition last year also showcased various famous self-portraits, from Vincent van Gogh, Tracey Emin and Rembrandt to celebrity selfies by Barack Obama, David Cameron and Benedict Cumberbatch.

While the addiction to selfies might be a modern concept, its purest form of capturing an image of oneself can be traced back to 1839 to Robert Cornelius, an American lamp manufacturer who became a pioneer in photography. He was credited to have taken the first self-portrait using the daguerreotype process, the first ever publicly available photographing process. This image of Cornelius, which required him to stand still for 10 to 15 minutes, is the oldest known self-portrait taken of a human.

The earliest use of the world selfie is believed to date back to 2002, when it was used in an Australian online forum

Robert Cornelius, a pioneer in photography who is credited to have taken the first ever self-portrait in 1839 Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The caption said: “Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.” From such humble beginnings...

But the term only became prevalent in 2012, appearing in social media websites such as Flickr and MySpace before it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013 and crowned “Word of the Year”.