Toronto Is Now Officially Full Of Instagram Bait

It isn’t just the exhibits that cater to Instagram in Toronto. We are designing for the photo op when it comes to everything from food to bathrooms at new restaurants.

By now, you’ve definitely scrolled past – and maybe even “liked” – photos of your friends, family, acquaintances, and people you barely know striking their most Instagram-worthy pose in front of the larger-than-life installations at The Happy Place.

The traveling exhibit of all things “happy” – which can accurately be described as an Instagram playland – took over the space at Harbourfront Centre (245 Queens Quay W) on November 1, where it will remain until January 1.

Here, you can frolic in the middle of the world’s largest confetti dome, leap through a larger-than-life rainbow into a pot of happiness (colourful plastic balls), hop inside the signature rubber ducky bathtub of fun, pose next to seven-foot tall stilettos made out of a million candies, mow down on a gooey rainbow grilled cheese, or sip Happy Hot Chocolate.

The common theme is photo ops – and likely snapping them in front of a dozen people who are waiting for you to finish so that they can do the same.

If you didn’t quite get enough of your ‘like’-worthy photo fix at The Happy Place, you’ll find more Instagram material over in the St. Lawrence Market neighborhood at the shiny new Museum of Illusions (132 Front St. E). The spot – which opened its doors to the public on November 7 – admittedly doesn’t look like much from the outside, with an unassuming turquoise sign. Inside, however, is a different story, as the large-scale optical illusions blow your mind and offer the perfect backdrop for a photo.

In the 80+ exhibits – which are all based on science, math, and psychology – include things like trippy vortex tunnels (you may want to take advantage of the legalization of weed beforehand), tilted rooms, reverse rooms, an infinity room, and other holograms and illusions. But, I likely don’t have to describe these, as the photo ops they offer have already started to grace your Instagram feed. The museum – which has locations in 14 cities around the world – has been met with massive popularity since its first location opened in 2015 in 2015 in Zagreb, Croatia.

On the topic of massive popularity, by now you may have heard that there is currently a crowdfunding campaign underway to bring a permanent infinity room to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), following the success of its “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” exhibition. The hugely Instagram friendly – and perpetually sold-out – exhibit of seemingly never-ending mirrored rooms hit the AGO last spring. Now, fans have until November 30 to help the gallery reach its target of $1.3 million toward the $2-million purchase of the permanent room. The AGO has secured $1 million for the plan but needs public’s assistance to produce $300,000 to help pay for ancillaries.

Of course, it isn’t just the exhibitions that cater to Instagram in Toronto.

We are designing for the photo op when it comes to everything from food and bathrooms at new restaurants, to the design of our public space.

Whether becoming a social media-saturated city has its benefits – especially when it comes to tourism and supporting local businesses (like the ones with the over-the-top ice cream cones) – at what cost are we designing for the gram, resulting in homogenous, ultimately uncreative content for everyone who buys into it (and I am definitely guilty of buying into it myself)?

At very least, I think we can all agree that the “Instagram bait” has its appeal when it’s new and fresh. But after a while, most of us are sick of seeing the same backdrops on our newsfeed, with the only difference between the snaps being a new person striking a (slightly) different pose. In other words, if you want to check out The Happy Place or The Museum of Illusions, I recommend you do so now while the content is still relatively “fresh.”

Featured image: Instagram/ @wearehappyplace