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A museum dedicated to trickery and deception

The Trick Eye Museum makes artwork come to life

By Korea Herald

Published : Feb. 26, 2013 - 20:15

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The following is part of a series exploring unique museums, collections and the passionate collectors behind them. ― Ed.


For those who have ever had the desire to possess a photo album filled with a collection of the most cherished and memorable moments of one’s life, such as walking down the red carpet; driving a Vespa down the streets of Santorini; having tea with King Sejong; or for those who like to take a walk on the wild side, having a cocktail on the beach with a shirtless, ripped Psy; then the Trick Eye Museum is heaven on Earth.

Imagine a museum that not only allows visitors to take photos inside, but one that is created for the sole purpose of taking candid, humorous photos. A museum where one can burst out in laughter with friends without being shushed, all the while having in its possession some of the world’s greatest works of art ― with a twist, of course.

Located on the hip and trendy art streets of Hongdae, the Trick Eye Museum is a unique, interactive museum with a visionary concept that stimulate the imagination by taking famous works of art and using an artistic French technique known as the trompe l’oeil, meaning “deceive the eye,” to create visually deceptive wall paintings. This is an art technique that involves the use of realistic imagery in order to create an optical illusion in which flat images appear to exist in 3-D. 
Various visually deceptive 2-D art pieces are on display at the Trick Eye Museum in Mapo-gu, Seoul. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald) Various visually deceptive 2-D art pieces are on display at the Trick Eye Museum in Mapo-gu, Seoul. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)

The museum features adaptations of famous paintings and adds a comical, interactive tweak, such as with the recreation of the well-known “Scream” piece by Edward Munch. Only here, the figure has its pants down and visitors can pose with the picture as if they were the ones de-pantsing the figure.

“Escaping Criticism” by Pere Borrell is a painting that depicts a young boy, who appears to be climbing out of a picture frame.

The entire museum is based on this premise and features paintings visitors are supposed to pose with. Located next to the art pieces are photo suggestions with poses that best capture the intent of the displays. Whether it be posing inside the mouth of a giant panda, in a gondola on the canals of Venice or taking a picture with a chubby Mona Lisa, each display is guaranteed to simulate and entertain.

Aside from paintings, the museum also includes various other opportunities for people to experience the mind boggling effects of the trompe l’oeil technique. Inside the museum is a replica of an Ames room, which is a life-size room that is architecturally distorted and designed to create an optical illusion. Invented in the 1930s by the American ophthalmologist Adelbert Ames, Jr., this optical trickery has been used many times in films to portray people looking like giants or tiny.

Upon exiting one of the museum’s many exhibitions, visitors must also try to navigate themselves out through a maze of mirrors, yet another visually deceptive piece of the puzzle, but all part of the museum’s charm.

By having pieces of art that literally feel as though they are reaching out to people, the Trick Eye Museum is innovative, humorous and clever and offers some of the most fun one could have visiting a museum. The Trick Eye Museum has also opened two locations outside of Seoul, one in Busan and one on Jeju Island.

By Julie Jackson (juliejackson@heraldcorp.com)