Before the success of the Museum of Ice Cream and the anticipation around The Museum of Pizza and other such “museums,” there was 29Rooms. For the inaugural event in 2015, Refinery29 took their readers into an immersive art experience that provided 29 separate opportunities to learn, lose themselves in art and take a picture along the way. It’s been a wild success, and a model replicated (and copied) time and time again. And yet, each September we cannot help but wait for the next 29Rooms—because whether or not Refinery29 did it first (we’d argue they did), no one has done it better. That’s most certainly true again this year—where the theme is “Expand Your Reality” and just as many altruistic experiences pop up alongside brand partnerships.
From a “values stand” to an entire ACLU gameshow room, called “Know! Your! Rights!” it’s impossible to miss the political presence on site–thankfully so. The digital publication has never shied away from addressing concerns, and that’s been one of 29Rooms benefits, as well. This year does see a swath of new collaborators—Kali Uchis, Dr.Jart+, Whisperlodge, The Hoodwitch, Moxy Hotels and House of Yes among them—but new ideas circulate as well. Perhaps most surprisingly, there are phone-free experiences aimed at keeping guests present. And they work.
“This year, we wanted to take it back to the basics and really hit people with beautiful narratives,” Albie Hueston, Refinery29’s Creative Director of 29Rooms explains. With that, the entire team and all of their collaborators (brands and artists, alike) aim to stimulate the imagination. Regarding lasting impressions, Hueston adds that “many of us rarely take the chance to explore, question, and engage. 29Rooms is a catalyst for people to connect with themselves, each other and the world now—whether it’s picking up a paintbrush in our Artists in Residence studio or learning about their rights in a seventies-inspired gameshow experience.” They push boundaries, this year perhaps more than ever before.
29Rooms runs 6-9 September and 13-16 September at 588 Baltic Street, Brooklyn. Tickets can be purchased online. This year will be the first to feature “Starlight Sessions,” with greater theatrical flourishes and DJs accompanying night-time hours.