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'Instagram museum' Smile Safari returns to Brussels

23:00 01/08/2020

Need inspiration for your next Instagram selfie? After a successful try-out at Tour & Taxis last autumn – attracting 30,000 visitors in three months – a place described as “the biggest Instagram and TikTok museum in Europe” is back in a more permanent guise, right in the centre of Brussels.

Smile Safari is a place where TikTokkers and Instagrammers can pose next to all sorts of backdrops for their pictures and videos. “It’s Disneyland for the Instagram generation,” organiser Hannes Coudenys told The Bulletin.

“I discovered this concept in Los Angeles at the Paul Smith store, where I saw rows of people waiting in line, not to enter the store but to take their selfies in front of the store’s pink façade.

“The phenomenon spread across the US with popup museums in most major cities. Artists, brands and influencers have created an intensified attention to our surroundings in their quest for the perfect photo so this sort of place seems inevitable.

“What we most want to accomplish is offering a place where people can just have fun.”

Located in Anspach Shopping, the museum will make you the star of a whole slew of different backgrounds, amusing, bizarre or stylish. In addition to the best of the backdrops from last year’s pop-up museum, there are new ones, plus TikTok backdrops, a Staycation Island, karaoke booth, disco and many more environments.

“We also have optical illusions,” said Coudenys. “We have a motorbike that’s standing on its back wheel so it seems that you are doing a wheelie, we have a car that we’ve taken the roof off, we have these treadmills where you can practice your catwalk, we have a circus environment where you can try to juggle and use a hula hoop.

“We added Tik Tok this year because last year we noticed that a lot of youngsters have switched from Instagram and that they do a lot of TikTok. So we changed our museum a bit so that it’s a place where you can take videos as well, so it’s an even more interactive experience.”

The coronavirus restrictions require advance booking and social distancing – but you can remove your mask when posing for each photo or video.

“We were a bit scared that people would have to wear their masks constantly,” said Coudenys. “But we were assured that when you are at the photo installation and you are inside your bubble of people, you can take your mask off for the picture or the video and then you put it back on to walk through the museum.

“We have different disinfecting stations - everything will be disinfected regularly and we ask the people, of course, to keep the mandated distance from each other.”

Smile Safari, open daily 10.00-18.00, Anspach Shopping, Brussels

Written by Richard Harris