NEW YORK The success of visual pop-up “museums” such as Refinery29’s 29Rooms in New York and Los Angeles, the traveling Museum of Ice Cream, and San Francisco's Color Factory is leading more event producers and designers to create temporary, Instagram-worthy exhibits based on a theme. One of the latest of these is the Dream Machine—a new experience in Brooklyn that features a series of rooms inspired by dreams.
The ticketed pop-up museum—which opens Thursday and runs through May 31 at a vacant retail space at 93 North 9th St. in Williamsburg—is the brainchild of Gary Johnson and Paige Solomon, a duo that previously created events for brands at experiential agency Magnetic Collaborative. Solomon said Dream Machine is the first standalone project they have produced and designed on their own; they declined to disclose the vendors who worked on the project.
“After producing immersive experiences on behalf of big brands like Netflix, Instagram, Uber, and Pinterest, I was ready to put my own original work out into the world,” Solomon said. “You could say that Dream Machine was inspired by my personal dreams. I wanted to create an experience that offered New Yorkers an escape from reality and a unique chance to explore a surreal dream world.”
The self-guided experience invites attendees to walk through a series of rooms at their own pace. Hired “dream technicians” wearing blue uniforms are on hand to direct guests as needed and encourage them to take photos. The rooms, all of which present different dreamlike environments, include an entry room designed to make guests feel like they’re walking through clouds; a neon laundromat that serves cotton candy from washing machines; a ball pit designed to make guests feel like they’re swimming underwater in a pool; and two areas inspired by the popular, traveling art exhibit “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors.”
Solomon said she took some of the lessons she learned from creating pop-up activations for brands and translated them into the museum. “I learned that the most powerful gift we have is storytelling, especially in today’s world. And that everyone experiences things differently, which should be celebrated and encouraged,” she said. “To me, it was the utmost importance to create a space that one, told a story; two, empowered people to share their own story; and three, felt like more than just a pretty picture.”
Depending on the success of the Dream Machine in New York, Solomon said she and Johnson would love to bring the experience to other cities. Here’s a look inside the museum’s Instagram-worthy rooms.