tourists love the selfie museum in budapest

Balázs Koltai and his partner Lilla Gangel, who also operate the Hungarian Paniq rooms, opened a place (and pastry shop) specifically for taking selfies, which cost €108,690 and was based on international examples. Since the opening in December, they have had 25,000 visitors, so their investment paid off in just a few months, their second place is also in the making, and they plan on expanding abroad too.

The place is officially called “Museum of Sweets & Selfies,” and the founders refer to at as the selfie museum, but if someone – over the age of 30 – goes through the entrance and passes the pastries and reaches the attractions, they will feel more like they are at a playground, surrounded by the colourful, playful, moving things. And it is no surprise: they decorated the whole interior so it would look as good as possible on Instagram. It is hard to break out of the crowd when there are millions of new posts every second. And why else would someone go to a selfie museum other than to break out of the norm a little and show off? Even if not on Instagram to tens of thousands of followers, but their Facebook friends with a shiny new profile picture, wrote

They got their inspiration for the museum from abroad: Balázs Koltai, who also manages the Paniq escape rooms, and heard at a conference that such museums already exist overseas. “When I arrived home to Lilla, I showed her the pictures on Instagram of the already existing museums. We decided to establish a place with a similar concept. We did not want to copy them, but establish the business concept with a unique place,” explained Balázs.

The pair decided to make their dream a reality on January 22 2018. Lilla said she is “never going to forget this date. There are opportunities in a person’s life when you just know exactly what to do with them.” She used to work in the medical field and was just promoted, but she knew immediately she was going to switch. According to Balázs, they complete each other: he says he is best at coming up with ideas and drafts, and his favourite part is the first phase, while Lilla liked to concentrate on the details, interior and appearance of the museum.

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The museum opened on December 6 2018, but they had more than just the decor to worry about before the opening.

The place they decided to get was a wreck at first, they had plenty to do with it from renovations to painting, but they knew it was the right one. The building is 400 square meters and stood abandoned for 15 years. They spent over €100,000 on starting the museum; in the beginning, they were looking for business partners but ended up making the museum all on their own in the end.

“We did not advertise it on the internet, but we were looking for a partner, because we did not have the capital, and we like to play it safe. We did not know how much they would be,” said Balázs.

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But their calculations were right: the cost stopped around their estimated amount, and the visitors arrived quickly. They asked two influencers to advertise the place in the beginning, but the others came on their own. In the beginning, they mostly had Hungarian visitors, but nowadays foreign tourists are the norm. Since the opening 25,000 people have visited the museum’s 11 rooms and the money invested in the place paid off by March. On weekdays tickets cost €10 and include an hour and a half of taking selfies, on weekends, and non-working days the cost is €11. For groups (from 15 people) and families (at least two parents and one child under the age of 14), a ticket is €8 per person. Balázs says one of their target audiences is families as children like to go to the selfie museum. Although they think of it more as a playground, even if the creators intended for it to be a museum. Lilla says they pay attention to people touching the displayed things and count with the amortisation. There are also signs informing visitors about what they may or may not touch or climb on.

Instagram is a great tool and plays a massive part in the organic expansion of the museum: Regina Dukai discovered the place in February on the platform. “As a businesswoman and online shop owner, I always have to pay attention to unique, beautiful places, where I have the opportunity to photograph my products in extra surroundings.”

There are usually some shops around the exits of museums, and Balázs and Lilla wanted something as well. So they decided to go with a pastry shop, since they have “sweets” in the museum’s name. Balázs Sitkei makes Their pastries, and there is coffee sold as well. They want to develop it further, as the income from pastries is pretty much invisible in the total income for now.

They would like to go even further: they want to open the new museum, which would be twice as big, in downtown Budapest. Lilla is already planning new rooms, and they will probably be able to solve this without involving any investors or business partners. They will be their own competition by opening the new selfie museum. And within a year they are planning on expanding internationally.

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You can purchase tickets to the museum HERE.


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