After visiting an interactive exhibit in Los Angeles, Kate Marlys—Photo Pop's owner and curator—wondered why these events hadn’t yet made their way to Philadelphia, her hometown. “It just got me thinking about how Philly didn’t really have anything like this at the time, and I wanted to bring something new and exciting to the city,” she says. “And then it got me thinking also about how many talented artists that are here in Philadelphia. I’m a fan of a lot and I’m friends with a lot, so I just called up some of my friends and pitched them the idea.”
The exhibit features the work of almost 20 local artists who collaborated to create immersive and ornate wintery displays for guests. From an awe–inspiring mural of the Northern Lights to a picture–perfect throne, visitors can expect to encounter a variety of photogenic, seasonally appropriate pieces. “There’s also a huge display called Santa’s Workshop where you can also sit on, basically, a huge pile of presents,” Kate adds, “You can literally pop out of a present. It’s very boomerang–focused in here.”
Photo Pop Philly has also partnered with XploreVR Studios to bring a variety of virtual reality offerings to the exhibit. “We always have some type of virtual reality experience. This time around we’re going to have more than ever,” Kate says.
Kate and her team hope to reach the whole Philadelphia community through the Winter Wonderland exhibit. “It was really important to me that this exhibit was inclusive and for everyone,” she emphasizes, “And what I mean by that is that it doesn’t matter what holiday you celebrate and it doesn’t matter how old you are. You can bring your girlfriend, you can bring your boyfriend, you can bring your family, you can bring your children. There’s really something for everyone in this exhibit.”
Curators of the exhibit encourage guests to strike a pose with the displays and to share photos of their experience via social media. Designed to curate Instagram fodder, Photo Pop's Winter Wonderland intends to remove the performative nature so endemic to other pop–up experiences. Instead of focusing on aesthetic, Kate prioritizes the user experience. “I loved seeing the creativity in the captions when people take pictures and post them on social media,” she says.
And as Kate adds, you never know who will stop by to snap a pic: “[In the Sweet Paradise exhibit] we did a huge jelly bean mosaic of Gritty and he actually came and checked it out this summer. So I like to say that you never know who will pop in to Photo Pop!” It's spontaneous moments like these that make the exhibit feel so authentic, even if most of us will experience it vicariously through a phone screen. Despite being meticulously planned, Photo Pop feels effortless.
But according to Kate, the best thing about Photo Pop Philly has nothing to do with Instagram. “Instagram plays a huge factor into everything that we do, from marketing the exhibit to how would this backdrop look on Instagram,” Kate says, “But, to be honest with you, it’s really just a fun experience and something new for people to take part in.”
Whether you’re searching for an original date night idea or for a place to take fun photos with your friends, look no further than Winter Wonderland. Break out your selfie–stick and purchase your tickets today.
Dates: Nov. 15, 2019—Jan. 5, 2020
Location: The Bourse, 111 S. Independence Mall E.