top50stl business idea of the week: PHOTOG – the “selfie” museum

PHOTOG is a museum that celebrates iconic photographs, historic magazine covers, memorable ads, famous albums, celebrated political artwork and unforgettable movie scenes with a twist. The museum combines the magic of lighting, set and costume design to recreate famous photographs with YOU as the subject!

Can you picture yourself hanging out in Seinfeld’s kitchen; having a drink at the iconic bar from Cheers; or enjoying a cup of coffee at Central Perk with your own group of “Friends?” Imagine yourself as one of the Beatles walking down Abbey Road; as Muhammad Ali hovering over Sonny Liston in victory; or as a sailor kissing a nurse on the cover of Life magazine.

What a great place to stage engagement photos — dress up as Prince Charles and Lady Di or Prince William and Kate Middleton; place yourself inside the iconic American Gothic painting or come up with an idea all your own. Envision a multitude of scenery backdrops available so that you could take a trip around the world all in one convenient location. The possibilities are endless and new exhibits could be in constant supply.

We could add departments, or possibly third party vendors, that specialize in photography and graphic design; a salon specializing in hair and makeup as well as costume rental and set design. Some great collaborators could be the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum, Johnnie Brock’s Dungeon Party Warehouse, the Saint Louis Camera Club and Laclede’s Landing Wax Museum. The City Museum could serve as inspiration since it has done such a great job of becoming a St. Louis landmark destination.

The museum could charge an entrance fee which would allow patrons free reign to take “selfies” inside each exhibit. There could be “selfie” sticks available to rent. We would need ushers to help shepherd crowds through the exhibits–they could provide a nice dual role as amateur photographers. Professional photographers could have the option to pay a studio fee in order to complete professional photo shoots and the space itself could be available for rent for special events.

The primary hiccup would be negotiating licensing rights as the entire building would be full of copyrighted material. It’s of upmost importance that this dilemma get resolved prior to moving forward with the rest of the project. Hopefully, this wouldn’t be a deterrent but a source for collaboration between the museum and all the tremendous photographers, designers and artists throughout the world and throughout history.

Saint Louis, Missouri has a myriad of historically significant and architecturally beautiful buildings that are no longer in use and need a little TLC. It would be great to repurpose a historic Saint Louis building as a new and innovative cultural institution, a place to show reverence for the great photographs and pop culture scenes from our history.

I will be pitching this idea at Washington University’s IdeaBounce on April 6th. If you would like to learn more about the concept, please come to the event or contact me at

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