farewell, FOMO

Houston's Instagram-worthy interactive art exhibit suddenly closes after owner's death

Houston Instagrammable art exhibit suddenly closes after owner's death

Fomo Factory
FOMO Factory has closed after the founder's passing. Photo courtesy of FOMO Factory

For more than a month, Houstonians have been flocking to the FOMO Factory in hopes of not missing out on one of the city’s most entertaining, interactive exhibits. (FOMO, natch, means “fear of missing out.”)

The immersive exhibit opened here at The Galleria on June 7 for a sixth-month run. As CultureMap reported, FOMO Factory features 17 rooms filled with fantastical sets from iconic childhoods, including a giant sand castle, a ball-filled swimming pool, and candy-covered swings.

The FOMO journey was far more than just an Instagram opp: it included a theatrical staff, smells piped into rooms, a retro soundtrack, and even tastes of childhood. The vivid experience kicked off with a five-month run in Austin last fall, attracting thousands of visitors, including stars like current pop sensation Billie Eilish.

However, fans will now miss out for good — with news of a tragedy. FOMO’s native Texan owner and founder, Rachel Youens, has passed away, meaning the factory will close. FOMO Factory posted the news on Instagram.

"Due to the death of our founder and owner, Rachel Youens, the FOMO Factory will be closing its doors permanently starting 7/17/19," the post read. "We're truly sorry about this necessary decision. If you have purchased tickets, you will receive an apology email explaining the refund process."

Youens, a native Texan, noted at the time of the Houston opening that she was inspired by her time spent at a summer camp for grown-ups, and thus, created a pop-up space for children of all ages.

“Our childhood theme is one that’s universal: we all had a childhood,” said Youens, in a statement. “Whether yours was great and you want to relive it, or it wasn’t so great and you want to reimagine it, we’ve created that opportunity. We invite you to return to that fleeting time in life when everyone was a potential friend, every day was exciting, and magic was something real.”

CultureMap has reached out to representatives of Simon Malls (which owns The Galleria) for comment. Fans have flooded the company’s Instagram page with regrets and sympathies, as the childhood dream, indeed, is now over.