Art can do many things for many different people. It can inspire. It can educate. It can spur people to action. It can calm them down. It can do all of those things, but art doesn't have to do any of them to justify its existence. Sometimes all art has to do is entertain!
Entertainment, not education, was foremost on our minds when we visited Art in Island, a 3D art museum in Quezon City. Unlike most art museums, visitors are encouraged to touch and explore -- in fact, that's where all the fun comes from! But we also managed to learn a thing or two about optical illusions and how your brain works.
Art in Island is located near Araneta Coliseum in Cubao. Like almost any destination in Metro Manila, it's tiresome to get to (lots of traffic), but it's definitely worth the trip. Even before you enter the museum, you are treated to a series of amazing 3D images painted onto the outside walls.
Just after you enter the museum, you'll find yourself walking through a gallery of optical illusions, including the young/old woman Illusion, the Zollner Illusion, and the Blivet Illusion (shown below).
One of my favorites was a rotating illusion that made me feel like I was spinning round and round in a closed room. Just looking at the photo makes me nauseous!
The rest of the museum was devoted to 3D paintings (over 200 of them!). I've never seen anything like it. We wandered through a series of rooms with walls and floors painted to resemble a variety of scenes: underwater, jungle animals, ancient monuments, fantasy lands, popular tourist attractions, and more.
Visitors can wander around and marvel at how the paintings look like they're popping out of the wall, but from this point on, each painting or mural doubles as a cool photo opp. Thanks to the wonders of optical illusion and 3D art, visitors can take photos that make their subjects look like they're part of the painting. When you (the subject) and the photographer are positioned in just the right way, you'll end up looking like you're sprouting wings, climbing out of a Renaissance painting, fighting a sea monster, or riding a lion. Keep scrolling down for just a small sample of the fun photos we ended up with!
Many areas were filled with murals designed to look like actual paintings. A lot of them were inspired by famous works of art like Da Vinci's Creation of Adam, Fragonard's The Swing, and Van Gogh's Starry Night.
Some were cheeky twists on the originals......
... and others were just plain cheeky.
Sometimes the photos look better when you have actual props. For this photo, I lent the kids some peso bills to throw in the air, so it becomes more challenging to figure out which bills are real and which are painted on the wall.
Sometimes props are provided by museum... but as with everything in this place, don't be fooled by appearances. How much of the gondola below is made of wood and how much is painted into the painting?
Here's another great example of how positioning a "prop" in front of a painting makes it easier to incorporate yourself into the scene.
Props are all well and good, but sometimes all it takes is a bit of clever artwork and proper positioning to fool the eye.
We were thrilled to see the Yellow Chair Illusion featured on NatGeo's Brain Games (except this chair was red). This photo takes a bit of practice to set up so that it looks convincing. I purposely chose a photo that wasn't quite perfect so that if you look closely, you can see how your depth perception fools you into thinking that Tiny Pea is sitting on a giant chair.
Another awesome illusion is the Ames Room, which makes it look like one twin is 5 years older than the other.
When you have identical twins, it doesn't take a lot of smoke and mirrors to set up this fun illusion!
Filipinos are crazy about taking photos and posing for selfies, so this is the perfect kind of museum to have in the Philippines. We are so glad we "dropped in" to take a look!
Things to knowArt in Island is open 9:30AM-9:30PM. It is closed on Mondays (check their Facebook page for the latest schedules and entrance fees).
How long you stay in the museum depends on how much you love posing for photos. There are a LOT of paintings and murals, and if you want to pose for a photo at each and every stop, it will probably take you 4-5 hours. Plan on staying at least 1 hour, probably 2. I think we stayed 2.5 hours and I don't think we came close to posing with even half of the available spots. There just came a point when we were all posed out.
Shoes are not allowed inside the museum. Visitors must leave their shoes in a locker and go around the museum barefoot or in socks -- so don't forget to wear socks (or purchase some from the museum) when you visit! Note that we ended up removing our socks for some of our photos because we looked just plain silly wearing socks, or because we needed the traction of bare feet in order to stay in our pose.
There are markers on the floor to help you figure out the best place to stand in order to take the perfect photo.
Now and then you'll find photo posing suggestions for many of the murals and paintings. Take note of body and hand placement... but don't be afraid to experiment and try your own poses!
Share the art! Unless you're on a special private tour, there will be many other visitors posing for photos and waiting for another group to be done so they can take their turn. Be aware of where you're standing and don't block other people's shots.