The 3D Fun Art Museum arrived in Portimão “not only to provide fun moments but to educate visitors” with fun facts and “classic works by famous artists and illustrators” with interactive experiences
– October 12, 2023 | Text Beatriz Maio
The 3D Fun Art Museum arrived in Portimão from Lisbon after being born on the island of Madeira. The idea and venture came from Ralf Hein, originally from Frankfurt, Germany, and Lara Hein, originally from Porto, a couple who discovered this common interest and have been developing a concept that did not exist in Portugal.
As Ralf and Laura worked in completely different areas, they thought about starting a business together and, during a holiday in Thailand, the realisation of what it would be came up whilst visiting a museum with a similar concept to the one they are currently pushing in three cities.
After enjoying a good family time with their children in a 3D space, they decided to open one of their own. “The whole family enjoyed it very much, but the images were very related to Asian culture,” Ralf recalled. Therefore, his search for three-dimensional painting artists began and, over three years, he was able to have on digital all the drafts that they imagined. In total, he brought together eight artists from several countries including the United States, Romania, Ukraine, Germany, and Portugal, who developed 40 high-resolution images.
The aim is not only to provide fun moments but to educate visitors who have at their disposal from fun facts to classic works by famous artists and illustrators such as The Inverted Faces by the Brit Rex Whistler and All is Vanity made by the American Charles Allan Gilbert.
Whilst walking, people are faced with explanations of how several optical illusions are created, which emphasise interactive exploration. This is a place that transports anyone to another world without leaving the physical space, not only the youngest but also the oldest who have been regular visitors and do not hide their smiles when experiencing the different realities that the 3D Fun Art Museum provides, whether in groups or individually, coming from all country with visits promoted by schools and senior centres.
Everything has been thought out in detail, from the entrance with paintings on the wall that tell stories to the the decorated bathrooms. The attention to detail is just one of the reasons it receives more and more visitors from all over the world, such as English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Lebanese, and Americans, with the Portuguese being the most frequent.
“I decided to take a chance on this business because it makes me happy, I like to see the happiness on people’s faces,” the owner emphasised, highlighting that he wants visitors to “have fun, a good time, and learn”.
The couple started by opening a museum in Madeira in 2019 however, the pandemic forced them to close doors due to government restrictions. Nonetheless, for the time they were open, they had good feedback from customers, both local and foreign. “It was working from the first day. After a few weeks, we knew the concept was functioning so I said to Lara that if it was going well, we should try it in any other city,” the owner revealed.
Then, in 2022 they moved to Lisbon and, after six months of preparation, the museum was already open. Although in Funchal it took three months, in the Portuguese capital it needed double the time to have the perfect large space. As soon as they opened, in July last year, it was a hit, and it was packed out. “I started thinking about opening a third one in the Algarve because I always loved the region so, in October, we moved here and we did it in July,” said Ralf.
The three spaces are different but share some images, like the shark which has become a classic. In Madeira, for instance, there are scenarios of the island landscapes whilst in Lisbon there are paintings of the 25 de Abril Bridge, and in Portimão the history of the city has not been left out as well as the traditional sardines.
The storyline is Ralf and Lara’s joint work and views that they acquired from their passion for going to optical illusion spaces with the artists’ ideas, with plans to change some of the images every year.
The scenarios allow for entertainment with lights, shadows, paintings, mirrors, and augmented reality – an animated experience displayed on a big screen that lets visitors play with different species of dinosaurs and other wild animals – which combines the science of visual perception with the magic of illusion.
The future is bright for this couple as they already have had many proposals from foreign investors who are planning to invest on the 3D Fun Art Museum concept, name, and images. Also, in Portugal the expansion may happen as the city of Porto is in Ralf and Lara’s sights.
For the visit, it is essential to bring a mobile phone or camera and for those who decide to go alone, it is possible to rent a tripod to take the photos or ask for help from a member of the young team.