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Taking Risks with a Private Pop Up Museum

Posted by on January 31, 2013

The Pop Up Museum is usually a totally public event. Its inclusiveness is part of its radical charm—it’s free and open to all. Anyone can bring an object and anyone can visit the museum. But we wondered…what would a private Pop Up Museum look like?

So we collaborated with NextSpace, a coworking community who provides a professional atmosphere and networking opportunities upon membership, to throw a Pop Up Museum during their weekly happy hour. The Pop Up Museum was open to NextSpace members only, allowing the museum to be a fun twist on a private social event. In fact, recognizes the Pop Up Museum as a community builder in their blog post.

The Pop Up Museum pops off at NextSpace

The Pop Up Museum pops off at NextSpace

The theme for this Pop Up Museum was “Taking a Risk.”

People were invited to bring an object that symbolized a professional, personal, or physical risk they’ve taken in their life, and share their stories as they sipped red wine and enjoyed cookies donated from Pacific Cookie Company.

Within a few minutes of setting up, members began filling the frames with risk-taking tokens and writing stories on blank labels. Check out our digital exhibit on Pinterest.

As objects trickle in, people gather around the display table.

As objects trickle in, people gather around the display table.

Not everyone who showed up to the happy hour knew to bring something to share, but that didn’t stop them from participating. Inspired by the theme and other exhibitors, people pulled objects from around the room and placed them in frames, coming up with stories on the fly. An impromptu pop up pursued.


This spontaneous thinking demonstrates how the Pop Up Museum encourages people to rethink the stuff and space around them. What happens when you take a dollar out of a wallet and put it in a frame? The dollar becomes objectified and aestheticized. It becomes a symbolic object suggestive of a story. The Pop Up Museum can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary in a casual and even spontaneous fashion. A common workspace becomes a playful gallery.

A dollar becomes a symbol for taking a financial risk

A dollar becomes a symbol for taking a financial risk

It is also true that people inspire people. Because other members were participating, those who didn’t bring objects wanted to join in on the fun.

After doing this personalized pop up, we realized the Pop Up Museum is a great format for groups who want to add a dash of structure or creativity to any social event. One man mentioned he was inspired to have a Pop Up Museum at his next dinner party.

Simple, yet malleable, you can tailor the museum to fit your event— including private parties. Why not throw a Pop Up Museum at your next birthday party? Or staff meeting? Or family reunion? There’s not one way to POP, and the Pop Up Museum is your opportunity to explore different means of bringing people together.