A pop-up Instagram museum celebrating Taiwanese culture has opened in Taipei, Taiwan.
The brainchild of David Chen, Gaki Hip is Taiwanese for “take a photo yourself” and features installations dedicated to various aspects of Taiwanese life and culture.
From bubble tea, a tiny scooter to a giant claw machine, Gaki Hip takes elements of daily life in Taiwan and gives them a modern, interactive twist.
Standing in a yellow room filled with colorful pineapple sculptures, Chen told Almost that he created the Instagram museum because he wanted to change people’s perspectives on Taiwan.
“A lot of people come to Taiwan because they think it’s cheap here, and they think that things that are really cool are coming out of like Korea, and Japan,” Chen said. “I wanted to create something that was really relevant and really now, but with Taiwan as a source of inspiration.”
Although the week that Gaki Hip announced its opening turned out to be the first week of the COVID-19 Omicron outbreak, the museum comes as Taiwan gains prominence on the global stage, in part due to how it has successfully contained the pandemic.
In fact, one of the first installations in the museum is an ode to how well the country has handled the pandemic; visitors are invited to pick up toy guns and shields and fight against giant coronavirus installations hanging off the ceiling.
Besides being interactive and visual, the museum is also multi-sensory, with the smell of pineapples in the pineapple room to vintage telephones on which people can hear the daily sounds of growing up in Taiwan – garbage trucks playing Beethoven’s Für Elise to ah-ma (grandmother in Taiwanese) calling them to come have dinner.
“I think it’s about noticing the beauty in everyday life,” Chen said. “Oftentimes people take for granted their daily surroundings ’cause it’s just something that you see everyday, but sometimes you need a fresh outlook to see that there’s so much beauty there.”
Many of the installations also carry a deeper meaning, and one of Chen’s rooms consists of a wish wall, where visitors write downs their dreams in chalk before proceeding into the Sky Lantern room, a Yayoi-Kusama-esque recreation of the annual Pingxi Sky Lantern festival, when thousands of people flock each year to write their wishes on a sky lantern before setting it into the sky.
For Chen, who had to fight hard to go to art school instead of getting a PhD like his father, it was important for him to create a space for people to express themselves.
“I know that many people maybe not as strong-willed as myself, they’re very obedient, they listen to their parents and keep their own secrets and desires, hopes and dreams, hidden in their heart,” he said. “But sometimes we just need to be brave and put it out there in the world, and you never know what may happen.”
Gaki Hip is open until April 30.