SALT LAKE CITY — Located in the Gateway next door to the Union Pacific Depot, Salt Lake's newest hall of fame, the Hall of Breakfast, answers the Instagram crowd's most pressing question: Where is my next photo-op?
The answer, come to find out, is on top of a big fiberglass sunny side up egg. Or swinging from a doughnut glazed with frosting and sprinkles. Or perhaps lounging in a pool of hot and light pink plastic balls surrounded by murals of flamingos that look as though they came straight from a Palm Beach mansion.
If it all seems a bit dreamlike and over-the-top, it was those qualities, said co-creator John Connors, that sparked the initial question he and co-creators Courtney Mahon and Sophie Weichers asked themselves as they developed Hall of Breakfast.
"Can we take something as everyday as breakfast and make it into art and make people approach all of that art in a way that they may leave thinking, 'Maybe all of these other things I see in the world could be a little more fun and a little more artistic and goofy?'"
Connors knows something about goofy. As one of the two product managers along with Weichers for Bigsley, a Utah-based events coordinator, Connors helped conceive of Utah's popular Color Run, an event, he said, that aimed to transform the ordinary into "something kind of magical."
And because this is 2018, one can't just experience magic: they also have to share it.
"Salt Lake has a big group of social media influencers who are all about the images and finding new things to share," said Weichers. "We live in a world where it's very Instagram heavy. People are always looking for fun things to do and fun things to share on their Instagram or Facebook or whatever, so that's what drove us to this idea."
The idea is a series of rooms that each represent a different breakfast food — hall of fame breakfast foods, that is. No oatmeal or granola here. (Clearly, opinions differ on what makes a hall of fame breakfast food, but that's another matter.) Guests, after checking in and picking up a copy of "The Morning Paper" — complete with breakfast horoscopes — enter a spare, white room, that, according to Connors, "pays tribute to this moment of possibility that you feel first thing in the morning." After walking through an oversized retro 1950s Smeg refrigerator, guests can then wander through rooms decorated to celebrate eggs, bacon, waffles, pancakes, doughnuts and coffee, before finally finishing in the aforementioned ball pit room. Everything they encounter in the rooms they can touch, crawl on and of course, photograph.
Roughly 20 mostly local artists helped design and create Hall of Breakfast's photographable rooms and gift shop, including Jesse Draper, one of the art directors, who was on hand opening day, June 9. He sees Hall of Breakfast as more than a good time — for him, it also represents his art philosophy.
"I think in a traditional museum space, it's the little stuff, 'Don't touch that, don't do that,' but here," he said, "you have beautiful art … (that doesn't) put up walls between people and the art. (It) lets them be a part of it, to interact with it."
How guests interact with the art is part of the Hall of Breakfast story that Connors and Draper want the guests to create themselves. Connors sees Hall of Breakfast about 70 to 80 percent done — "The last 20 percent," he said, "is you as a guest engaging with it and doing what you want. It's fun for me to observe people … and realize, 'oh they're using that differently than I anticipated.'"
From the kids, teens and even adults snapping selfies and shots of each other atop the coffee bean beehive (beanhive — get it?), diving in the ball pit and posing next to a sign that reads "Keep on the sunny side," it's clear the guests are making Hall of Breakfast their own. For Draper, part of the reason people seem to have no problem embracing the installations is because they are just big versions of things they already love. After all, he asked, who doesn't want to swing on a doughnut?
"Doughnuts are so visually appealing — they're delicious. I think they are the thing that ruins diets the most. … (Plus,) they are the perfect shape for a rope swing. (Those swings) needed to be created."
If you go …
What: Hall of Breakfast
Where: 12 S. 400 West
When: Through July 9, Monday, Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m., closed Tuesdays
How much: $20 for adults, $15 for kids 4-12, free for 0-3