Have you been to Cosmos Museum? When talking to my friends about this place I get an impression that all of them have already been there and all are equally disappointed. But why is that? In order to find the answer to that question we will embark on a journey to the world built specifically for Instagram. I will tell you what Cosmos Museum is and what it certainly isn’t, what you’re going to find there and how much will it cost you. I will not give you a simple ‘worth it’/’not worth it’ review but I hope that by the end of this blog post each of you will be able to decide whether this is a place for you or not.

I have already spoken about shaping experience for social media and putting aesthetics over meaning while preparing a review of my visit in Warszawski Lukier café. Gone are the days when a picture was just an addition to the experience, a material evidence of us doing, trying or experiencing something. More and more often it is the picture itself that is the sole purpose, with the whole act of experiencing something being pushed to the background. The most popular examples of such made-for-Instagram places which serve more as a pretty background for the pictures than to provide some valuable insights or offer an unforgettable experience are the American Museum of Icecream (so popular that it already has two locations – San Francisco and New York) and Museum of Selfies or Japanese TeamLabBorderless. You would expect that by now everyone has already had the exact same picture taken in one of these spots and included it in their Instagram collection but you would be surprised by how many people are still standing in the line to either of these places just to take one. Cosmos Museum must have been created with this kind of Instagram-inspired spots in mind.



I believe the surprise and dissatisfaction which a lot of people feel after the visit in the Cosmos Museum stems partially from the mistaken name. People simply have no clue what to expect. One could not call it as a museum as there are no exhibits to look at, rather the spaces you can wander around, sometimes being able to do something in between. I wouldn’t refer to it as an art galery either – even though the definition of art theoretically knows no boundaries, this place is more about technology, experiments, gadgetry and colourful lights than works of any specific artist. The description on their website suggests this is a ‘museum of illusion and digital art’. We will also hear a buzzword interactive which is nowadays competing with immersion (understood as getting lost in something) for the ‘most-commonly-used-word-in-the-Insta-museum-world’ title.

Cosmos Museum can also be kind of immersive when you see all the dynamically changing and blinking lights around you, when you get lost in the labirynth of mirrors (just kidding, there is no way to get lost as the finger prints all over them will show you the way, lol), when you ‘vanish’ for a moment in a room with mysterious mirror, but mostly when you get to a room where you can control the visualizations using your own body – by walking, dancing or waving hands. Still the most impressive of all is probably a glass room full of Christmas lights – and that would explain why it is getting the highest amount of hashtags on Instagram.

No cosmos in Cosmos

After reading the above review you probably started to wonder where is all that cosmos hidden? Good question. The authors were trying to save the day by providing one tiny spot where you can try your luck at lacing shoes using pliers… to get a sense of how hard a life of an astronaut can be. There are also some flying plastic marbles trying to give a sense of weightlessness and that would be it. What else is there? A lot of illusion (mirrors, Ames Room, caleidoscopes, blinking lights, a tunnel made of red spaghetti (Health and Safety – what is this? That tunnel made of fabric fringes is the last place you would want to go now, with the coronavirus round the corner) and other time-fillers with a pretty background for your Insta-pictures. The saddest of all is probably the pink room full of balloons. Wait, did I say full? Excuse-moi, I meant there are like 20 dirty balloons which have not been destroyed yet, lying on the floor and waiting for some fashion bloggers to come take a selfie.

Room for improvement

There is no doubt that the mission of Cosmos Museum is to provide the Insta-lovers with a nice background for their pictures. In some cases they even offer hints such as marking the area where the photographer should stand in order to capture the best photo, e.g. next to a wall with a colourful light imitating 3D effect. What does it mean? Cosmos Museum is not a place you go visit on your own, you will need at least one extra person or preferably even more since the Ames Room for instance will require even three photographers to achieve a desired effect. It would be nice if the museum offered a different type of assistance, e.g. by providing some areas with selfie sticks or tripods where you could stick your smartphone in, use the self-timer option and become a fully independent king or queen of Instagram.



Expectations vs. reality

Let’s go back to the opening question of this post which is why did all my friends leave the Cosmos Museum disappointed? Because they went there with a purpose different than taking an Insta-picture and it turned out to serve only this one. If you expect to spend a couple of hours in an active and engaging way as in Centrum Nauki Kopernik, you will simply be disappointed as this is not that kind of place. If you expect to grasp some new knowledge about the universe, astronauts and celestial bodies, don’t bother to go there as you will not receive it. If you are, on the other hand, in need of an interesting background for your pictures or simply want to take a not-so-ordinary selfie, then this is the place to be. My only advice would be to go there on a weekday during working/school hours so that noone disturbs you.


Post Scriptum: Trend and anti-trend

Do you find yourself sick of taking pictures and living in a world of selfies? You are not alone. In opposition to the Insta-hype, there is also a new wave of those seeking the ‘normal’. The Momofuku restaurant chain established by David Chang (whom you may know from Netflix) has now completely banned taking pictures on their premises, other venues go for creating special dark interiors where photographing is simply impossible. Often times musicians during their concerts decide to completely turn off the lights when playing their most popular song just to ensure that people will devote this time to listening and fully experiencing this moment rather than turning into a pillar of salt with smartphones glued to their hands (I have been to a concert like this but right now I cannot recall which one it was!). Why the hussle? It’s about reminding people to fully cherish the moment and focus on the experience instead of scratching their heads to find a new spot for their Instagram picture. I wonder who will win this battle in the end: a made-for-Instagram world such as the one offered by Cosmos Museum or a complete isolation. I am (unfortunately) leaning towards the first one. What’s your bet?