What is the fun in Barcelona’s tourist museums? | Art & Architecture

The Balloon Museum presents “Pop Air”, an exhibition dedicated to inflatable art, at the Victoria Eugenia Palace.Albert Garcia

“Free Wi-Fi inside.” The first time I hear this phrase, I don’t pay attention. It’s said by a smiling hostess dressed as a frog, as if it were something out of a prison novel, except this one is black, not orange. He must be in his early twenties. He’s friendly with the small line I’m in, but he punctuates each word with purpose and pauses, as if he’s communicating with a slightly deaf child. I’m the only one who’ll enter the White Rabbit alone.Outside the museum Which opened in May on the old Boulevard Rosa on Passeig de Gracia. My role was between a woman and her ten-year-old son, who did not communicate with each other but addressed the organization in English, and a group of four Asian tourists listening attentively and wearing the same style of expensive sneakers, the ones that had only been used before. Hostile Professionals, but now that the brand has partnered with Loewe and Zendaya is their image, it is the latest epidemic among travelers who visit us. It is a local holiday, there is no traffic noise and the rest of Barcelona seems asleep. The hub of luxury in Barcelona is not asleep. Hundreds of tourists wander here who, after visiting La Pedrera or Casa Batlló, do not know where to look, with most of the shops closed. A good option is to enter this yellow gate with flashing neon lights that leads to a picture of a kiss between Cristiano Ronaldo in his Real Madrid kit and Messi in his Barcelona kit, one holding a rose and the other a book. It is Kissa painting by the artist TVBoy that reproduces the graffiti that appeared in Sant Jordi 2017 on the facade of this same street and which was erased a few days later. It is also the first work in this place, whose manifesto claims to be the first of the 40 museums in Barcelona in which “we do not adhere to the traditional definition of the word, nor to its logic and rituals.”

When crossing this space, if one thing is clear it is that pleasure is a sacramental principle. “We do not ask our visitors to be silent. Or that they do not touch anything. We are not a repository of big names that have been dead for years. We will not tell you how to take pictures. We are not going to tell you how to take pictures,” says the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland (hence the English name) in a statement of intent. : “We ask only one thing: that you have fun.” By imitating convincing digital vernacular, the animal implores the visitor in the same tone as the segmented Instagram ads: “Have fun getting to know another side of Catalan culture. Enjoy sticking your head into a tadpole, playing a giant Caganer, and dancing like you’re at Razzmatazz. Because not all art has to be meditative. So, enjoy your time at the museum. Enjoy where you don’t touch.’ I read this and think it’s hard to feel something when you’re hated, but I try as I move through ten rooms that promise, through the sound of helmets, to show me ‘the Barcelona that tourists don’t see’.

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The White Rabbit, described by its owners as the “only museum” in Barcelona, ​​is located on Passeig de Gràcia, in the old galleries of Bulevard Rosa. Albert Garcia

In less than an hour’s drive I’ll be visiting Chivari – An intensely colorful, hallucinogenic installation meant to mimic the decorated streets of neighborhood parties -; I’ll walk down a hallway full of tadpoles with facial expansions and tattoos that will look more like an exaggerated portrait of annoying businessmen than a sympathetic approach to urban subcultures; I will contemplate a giant kaganir several meters high, or I will be invited to the dance machine in a narcissistic installation in which I will see myself doubled on screens, the antithesis of the collective experience of club culture if I experience it, as it is the case for me. case, all alone. 100% indispensable immersive activity will come ExplodesA room of mirrors and projections where artificial intelligence visualizes the stained glass windows, the Trincades and the fountains of Montjuïc; a tour with virtual reality glasses that will tell me the legend of Saint George with a dragon that seems to have come out of him game of thronesand I’ll pass an interactive arts room that claims to simulate a St. John’s bonfire but is suspiciously reminiscent of Instagrammables. Infinity mirrors By Yayoi Kusama, which has been replicated in new museums in tourist capitals. Everything tries to be so funny, so different, so existential that you are invited to dance in the toilets. Stay alive With neon lights when the alarm button is pressed, and the output does not indicateexit Accustomed to being just a few meters away from the giant counter that registers Instagram followers in real time (2722), White Rabbit bids you farewell with Out A giant pendant in red and capital letters, just in case you forget to live through this tour for 20 euros.

Since the post-pandemic tourism explosion, Barcelona has seen a growth in its experiential entertainment offerings.

Run by Amuseum, the company created by the heir to the old Bulevard Rosa, Enrique Vives, to revitalize the space, it bills itself as a “museum of experience.” It’s not the first of its kind in Barcelona, ​​but it’s one of the more guerrilla marketing operations that has invested in the marquees scattered throughout the city center to sell itself as a kind of rebellion. amazing For traditional cultural consumption, one of its advertisements is hung in front of the Paradox Museum, an international franchise that opened in Plaça Urquinaona – there are 30 other museums spread around the world, and whose CEO is of Greek origin – and the hostesses also wear work frogs, only these have a checkerboard pattern. It will be here, where another real-time counter of Instagram followers (15,488 at the time) greets me, that the “free indoor wifi” that the employee reminds me of will gain its importance. Without internet, no museum is worth having. And without connectivity, the photos you have to take inside will not be shared. Without a mobile phone it is not worth entering Paradox, which also costs 20 euros, since my trip will be shorter and faster because most of the attractions are optical illusions that require photographing, at least as a couple (one person must stand at one point and the other must take the photo from a vantage point with explanatory videos).

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As I wandered through this place between an Italian family intently focused on every task, a silent German couple just taking pictures, and a group of English friends excitedly taking pictures of themselves in a hall of mirrors like the beautiful mirrors of a lifetime, I remember, when my mobile phone battery ran out, what It was explained by Bo Burnham in his own book inside For Netflix (2021): “The outside world, the non-digital world, is just a theatrical space in which one displays and records content for the digital space, which is much more real and much more alive. One has only to deal with the outside world as one would deal with a coal mine. “Get dressed, gather what is necessary, and return to the surface.” I exit the paradox ahead of schedule, rushing through the final illusions and not pausing to try them out. I feel more useless and lonely than ever: without a companion, without a mobile phone, I have no coal to carry to my window after the trip. If I can’t film it or share it, what’s the point of being there?

Inflatables on the door of Palau Victoria Eugenia on the occasion of the “Pop Air” exhibition.Albert Garcia

In tune with the post-pandemic tourism explosion, Barcelona has seen tremendous growth in its offering of experiential entertainment. They are usually in well-located, central places, alongside other tourist attractions or in areas close to tourist bus stops. These new tourist museums have enough to teach to be called that. When asked what characteristics a place must have in order to be declared a ‘museum’, cultural sources from Barcelona City Council point out that ‘the term museum is optional’, and that in order for them to be recognized as such, they simply must have Collection In the Catalan capital, a building without a collection cannot be considered a museum, but a collection without a building can be considered a museum. That’s why this sudden invasion.

And far from the proliferation of immersive art galleries, like the Ideal Museum or the Moco Museum, major museums are already ignoring Instagrammable elements in their displays as an influencer – perhaps the most shared curtain in the world. stories In recent years, this was the one that hung in a retrospective of Félix Rodriguez Torres in Macba – the invasion of mediated entertainment experiences becomes clear with a quick Google search on Trip Advisor. In its list of the city’s best museums, in addition to the MNAC (second place) and CosmoCaixa (third), it recommends the museum dedicated to the film alien (VII) or the Museum of Illusions (38), a place above the CCCB (39). This classification does not include temporary immersive activities that pass through the city, e.g Bubble planet (which includes a giant bubble pool to swim in), or the Tim Burton Maze (which was in Plaza de España with full tickets at 34 euros) or Balloon Museum Pop Air (which now occupies the Victoria Eugenia Palace in Piazza España until September 15 after passing through Madrid or Rome). Each work, 17 in total, thanks to the interaction with the viewer, creates new spaces for physical, digital and cultural socialization. “People are at the center of constant stimulation to see, feel and live thanks to inflatable art,” they explain in the presentation. Once again, the sensations and shocks of face-to-face and virtual interaction are used as an excuse to make sense of our leisure time.

A building without a collection cannot be considered a museum, but a collection without a building can

When he coined B. Joseph Pine II and James Gilmore introduced the concept of the “experience economy” in 1998 In the article they will publish Harvard Business Review, Perhaps they did not imagine the weight that social networks would play in the near future for this work. In this text, they suggested that “if natural products are exhaustible, goods are tangible, services are intangible, and experiences are unforgettable,” and that the latter would be the most developed form of economic value. It is this capitalist concept that has evolved best: time is money today and memories are the best marketable souvenirs. Jenny Odell points this out recently Get your time back! (Ariel, 2024): The experience economy of network culture “has transformed the world itself, twenty-four hours a day, into a three-dimensional store of two-dimensional backgrounds.” Or what’s the same: we no longer seem to know how to enjoy our unpaid time, whether at a concert or at an art gallery, if we’re not working for the mine of our phones.

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The work “Kiss” at The White Rabbit, the new museum on Passeig de Gràcia.Albert Garcia

Analyzing the case of an ice cream museum that has been collecting queues in its hometown (San Francisco), Odell in his article rescues the Japanese adjective insta-bae, a combination of the words Instagram and haeru (‘shine’), a concept that would come to mean “something that works well on Instagram.” If something is shared between both the ice cream museum and the white rabbit or irony, it belongs to the capital market.Instabuy Qualifying it as art. “Anyone with a camera and a healthy mind—the greedy temperament that Susan Sontag refers to—can treat any ice cream parlor like a museum. In the context of the experience economy, Instagram, categorized as “social,” is best understood as a shopping app, a marketplace for displaying and exploring acquisitions, whether through real ads or the life embodied in the images of our friendships.” Odell. In this context, it makes sense that instead of wanting to buy a souvenir from the museum shop when we leave, we should be content with taking a photo with us. Instabuy All chaos. sense Free wifi There is no fun inside.

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