The Museum of Joy


Museum of Joy Baker Beach labyrinth 2014 by Carissa Mosley

photo by Carissa Mosley


The Museum of Joy's mission is to create public ways to explore, cultivate, and celebrate the emotional, cultural, psychological, and spiritual experience of joy. Our definition of joy has less to do with happiness and more to do with wonder: we think joy behaves like a sudden lantern lit on a dark night, or the moment the sun comes out from behind a cloud: a striking beauty or unexpected depth that reminds us the world can be wonderful.

Each of us, throughout our lives, collects a handful of moments and memories of joy, a kind of treasure trove of luminous fragments like shards of stained glass. The Museum of Joy is here to help bring those pieces into a kaleidoscopic shape, to make a window we can look through together to catch a glimpse of the wild beauty and wonder of our existence.


Why a museum of joy? Why a museum at all?

Well, firstly because we think the concept of "museum" is ripe for reclamation. The concept of Museum is too often conflated with the image of a boring, expensive building filled with dead or stolen things. This is a shame, because many museums contain things of great meaning and importance to the spiritual and cultural history of humanity - things that should be shared and seen and celebrated by everyone, not just those who feel comfortable in marble halls.

And secondly, we think a museum can be any collection of things that holds power or importance for a group of people - after all, the word "museum" comes from "muse," the old female deities who presided over the arts and sciences and were called upon for inspiration and guidance during any act of making. To reimpower people to connect with the idea of museums as a home for inspiration and wonder, we've created an inside-out museum dedicated to one of the great shared experiences of humanity: a growing collection of joyous experiences gathered from people all over the world, with no walls and no doors and no explanatory plaques, but lots of opportunities to participate, share, and amplify your own sense of meaning.

Beauty in the Ordinary photo by Laura Mason

Joy often lies in the minute, the momentary, the magical. A sudden color of light, a city miniaturized in a puddle, a stranger's in this glimpse by photographer Laura Mason.


The Museum of Joy is based in San Francisco, CA, but actively invites participation from all over the world. Like to get involved? Drop us a line or join our totally spam-free mailing list!


The Museum creates free, public, participatory experiences centering on different aspects of joy. Our works often instersect with major holidays in slightly subversive ways, encouraging people to rethink the ways in which consumerism has coopted our very real need for ways to mark celebration, mourning, intimacy, and connection. You can check out some of our past projects here, or get involved in what we're getting up to now.

We strongly believe that joy is a vital aspect of the fight for social justice. It reminds us that the world is capable of wonderous things, sustains us in our bleakest hours, and helps us envision a future worth fighting for. Joy can light our way on the long dark road into the life we want to live for and with each other. Though it may come to us for different reasons and diverse places, it is one of the few experiences truly common to us all, in all its fleetingness and beauty. We think it has a lot to tell us -- about suffering, about wonder, about the reasons we get up in the morning and love each other and fight for something more despite the pain that threatens to crush us -- and we are here to try and listen, and tell those stories, and tell them again and again and again.

"While the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn't any other tale to tell, it's the only light we've got in all this darkness."

- James Baldwin

Library of Joy at the SFPL Richmond Branch, 2014


Jericha Senyak
Jericha Senyak, Founding Artistic Director, is an artist fiercely dedicated to connecting meaning-making and the arts for people left un- or under-served by traditional arts presentation, and deepening those connections for anyone already enjoying them. She's passionate about community, placemaking, radical inclusion, and the idea of joyous experience as an act of protest and empowerment. When she's not working on the Museum of Joy, she serves as a business consultant for numerous Bay Area arts organizations.

Jens Ibsen
Jens Ibsen, Collaborating Artist, is an operatic tenor whose vocal talents have led him to performances from Dubai to Shanghai, with stops along the way on German television and at Carnegie Hall and the UN. Jens was the principal soloist and first African-born member of the world-renowned Vienna Boys Choir. Currently, he is a senior at Pepperdine University, studying Vocal Performance under Louise Lofquist and Music Composition under Dr. Lincoln Hanks. He spends his free time composing and scheming about fantastical musical events, such as the operatic flashmobs he's masterminded for the Museum of Joy.

Natalie Nayun
Natalie Nayun, Collaborating Artist, is a fusion dancer noted for her lyrical style, which combines modern American styles of bellydance with more classical inflections and influences ranging from Persian and Classical Indian dance to modern, jazz, ballet, and hip-hop. She is a dancer with Deshret Dance Company, and teaches and performs internationally, most recently in Turkey, Argentina, and Chile. She is the director of the Oakland-based dance company Adara, which fuses belly dance, Central Asian dance, and romance dances with a modern choreographic sensibility.


The Museum of Joy is grateful for the advice, insight, and collective knowledge of its Board of Advisors, which includes Christina Beam, Thea Henney, Courtney Hooks, Jay-Marie Hill, Dexter Lohnes, Ryk McIntyre, Hilary Naylor, Aditi Rao, Joshua Redel, Naomi Rifkin, and Annie Robertson.

The Museum of Joy does not have its own 501(c)(3) status, but is a fiscally sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, an arts service organization. You can learn more about Fractured Atlas and fiscal sponsorship here.

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