In the age of selfies and doing it for the ‘gram, you may have noticed the rise of pop-up museums featuring curated art exhibits that function as photo opps. They’re definitely a fun way to spend an afternoon with friends snapping selfies, and will elevate your social media feed with eye-catching shots.
Most recently, I visited the Museum of Dream Space— or MODS Museum— in Los Angeles, a digital art museum with immersive exhibits designed by Yayoi Kusama. It’s comprised of six rooms all with their own aesthetic experience, relying heavily on the use of lights, projection, and reflection.
The MODS Museum is definitely one of the more pricey pop-ups I’ve encountered. Adult admission is $32, though you can take advantage of a Buy 5 Get 1 Free deal if you want to go with friends. Something unique that MODS offers that I haven’t seen in other pop-ups, though, is the VIP package which includes a personal photographer to stage and shoot your photos for you. This option costs $60 for an individual, or $100 per couple.
I was invited to the MODS Museum for the VIP package, and while it may seem steep, I think there were major advantages to having the photographer versus trying to take photos yourself. First of all, this isn’t just an extra set of hands to snap photos on your phone. The photographer has a DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses so you’re getting quality photos, which you receive on your own 2gig SD card at the end. Myself and a friend left with a combined 200 photos. I felt like our photographer really cared about getting great photos, and would have us switch positions and interact with the art for a variety of looks. He was also very open to our own ideas for posing or angles.
Going through the experience with someone who knows how to pose the best shots and the best moment to capture the photo (the lighting changes within each room) ensures that you’ll get the most out of the museum. With that said, if you already own your own DSLR, I think you’ll be just fine as long as you bring someone to help you shoot. I would not really recommend relying on a smartphone camera, as the exhibit as a whole is mostly low-light situations that won’t translate as well with auto settings. Overall, I think the VIP package is worth it if a) you’re an influencer and want creative photos for social media, or b) you and your significant other want some magical shots together. All of the photos in this blog post were from the VIP photographer provided by the museum.
Also… you get a goodie bag with your VIP package that includes a tote bag, water bottle, pen and lip balm. A fun touch!
Best Time to Visit MODS Museum
We never felt rushed, but we also visited on a Thursday early afternoon so there weren’t many other attendees. When encountered with a lot of visitors at once, the museum limits the amount of people inside which can result in a line. I can appreciate this because, for the money, you’re going to want pictures without a bunch of strangers photobombing. I would really try to visit right at opening so you can take your time and get your money’s worth. We finished in about 30-40 minutes and were the only ones in each room. There were a few visitors following us but far enough behind that we weren’t overlapping. Especially if you’re choosing the VIP package, you won’t want to be rushed!
What to Wear to MODS Museum
Because the exhibits are so pattern-focused, from projected designs or mirrors creating geometric effects, your body often becomes part of the exhibit itself. If you’re wearing something too busy, it could take the focus away and even diminish the end result. I wore this solid-colored spaghetti-strap maxi dress from Amazon and it was perfect for helping the art stand out. I had a jean jacket on at the beginning of our time, but ended taking it off since that was too distracting in my eyes as well. On the flip side, I’ve seen people wear more costume-y outfits in the museum for really great photos. I’d just stay away from patterned “street clothes” for the best effect.
How to Take Your Own Photos at the MODS Museum
If you decide that you want to skip the VIP package and take your own photos, here are my best tips at getting Instagram-worthy shots:
Use a DSLR. Being able to adjust your ISO and shutter speed will be essential in these dimly lit rooms. While some smartphones have awesome low-light capabilities (the Google Pixel might be okay for this), my iPhone X wouldn’t even cut it. You can definitely get photos of the exhibit with your phone, but if you want to be in the photos yourself, a smartphone will have a hard time balancing the light needed to capture both you and the exhibit. Since the pop up is pricey, you might as well make sure you’re getting decent photos out of it.
Bring a wide aperture lens. Not only will these take better shots in low-light situations, but you can get a dreamier effect with the blurry backgrounds that result from shooting in a low aperture. I suggest the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II or the Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM lens.
Bring friends. This is not going to be a pop-up you want to tackle with a selfie stick or your own arm. A lot of the exhibits create large-scale effects, and you’ll want the photo to be taken a bit of a distance.
Overall, the MODS Museum in Los Angeles was a really fun experience that’s worth checking out if you’re interested in capturing some mesmerizing photos. It’s located in the Beverly Center mall, and there is no word yet on when the pop-up will close. Try to visit while you can!