A DIFFERENT KIND OF MUSEUM…

During our stay in Chiang Mai — the first stop on our trip around Southeast Asia and Taiwan — we were left kind of intrigued about an attraction that kept coming up as one of the most popular ones among visitors to the city. Amidst exuberant temples built under the Lanna Kingdom (before it was occupied by Siam, which would later become Thailand), cooking classes and tours to elephant sanctuaries, this “Art in Paradise” museum just kind of stood out.

Some quick online research for photos of this mystery museum (which we soon discovered to be a “3D Art Museum”) didn’t take long to give us an idea of how ridiculous it looked, at least through the eyes of a westerner. Like, some of those pictures on TripAdvisor even left Miguel laughing to tears — which usually is a really good thing. So we decided to give it a try.

BUT WHAT IS A 3D ART MUSEUM?

Very briefly, this is what goes on inside it:
So, this is a building where the walls, floors and ceilings have been painted with tons of different illustrations that, when seen from a very specific perspective, create a 3D illusion that the object (or subject) inside the drawing is jumping out of the wall.

As you can imagine, this makes every single piece an opportunity for visitors to enact some kind of crazy (but really fun!…) interaction with whatever’s painted on the wall (and floor, and ceiling). Of course, that’s also an opening into a new world of ludicrous photos ready to be spread out to TripAdvisor and Facebook (and to travel blogs, evidently).

NOW DOES THAT LOOK LIKE A GOOD IDEA TO YOU?

Well, apparently Asia doesn’t care all that much about your opinion, since this concept which seems to have been born in South Korea, is now present in museums across many Asian cities, like Beijing, Bangkok, Georgetown (Penang), Manila, Singapore, …

In fact, they’re so ubiquitous that after Chiang Mai we ended up visiting a second one, in Langkawi — an island just off the northwest of Peninsular Malaysia. And it’s not that we were super-excited to get back inside another 3D Art Museum (though we gotta confess we were curious about what kind of masterpieces we’d find there), but the entrance to this one was included in a pack to go on the SkyCab, probably the highest cablecar ride we ever did.

IF WE LIKED IT?

Well, let’s say we definitely had a lot of fun during the first hour or so.
Between snow globes with a “Welcome to Chiang Mai” plaque (so appropriate), hilarious Chinese men posing alongside giant sharks, Mariana as a mermaid or flying on a magic carpet and both of us being swallowed by a crocodile, we can’t say it was a boring ride.. at least in the beginning.
Problem is, after two or three hours inside (it’s a big museum), the novelty has faded and patience runs out.. Because there’s a time when even taking fun pictures, and enjoying other people (and your friends) making ridiculous poses, starts getting old.

By the way, something you should know: it’s possible that during your visit to a 3D Art Museum you start feeling like maybe it was a waste. If that happens, just remember that when you get home at the end of the day, at least half a dozen pictures will make the time and money seem worthwhile.

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