Ever wish that the stunning visuals seen in the world of a Wes Anderson film were real?

You can’t actually check in at the Grand Budapest Hotel or hang with the Royal Tenenbaums, but for over six years, a popular Instagram account, Accidentally Wes Anderson (AWA), has been posting images of actual locations that look like stills from the renowned director’s films.

A married couple, Wally and Amanda Koval, started the account in 2017 as an informal travel bucket list. They’ve since amassed nearly two million followers, produced a jigsaw puzzle and published a coffee table book. Their work has also inspired an exhibition that’s hit Seoul, Tokyo and is now open in London.

Accidentally Wes Anderson: The Exhibition” is billed as a “journey through more than 200 of the most beautiful, idiosyncratic and interesting places on Earth—all seemingly plucked from the whimsical world of Wes Anderson,” per AWA’s website. It’s managed by Fever, the entertainment company known for organizing interactive exhibitions and pop-ups such as “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience.”

Húsavik Light Matthijs Van Mierlo
A brighly painted lighthouse in Húsavik Matthijs Van Mierlo

The show features a series of rooms that are organized by theme, beginning with “Post Office” and “Doors.” Other themed sections include “Transport,” “Hotels/Motels,” “Nature” and “Maritime.” 

This iteration of the show will also have a room dedicated solely to London. The images in this room depict iconic buildings and landmarks, such as Buckingham Palace, as well as everyday spaces that passersby may not think twice about, like a laundromat or umbrella shop.

What defines Wes Anderson’s style? In 2020, Smithsonian magazine’s ​​Jennifer Billock described it as “a colorful palette, symmetrical features, a feeling of nostalgia, a fascinating story.” 

Warrender Baths, Soo Burnell
The Warrender Swim Center in Edinburgh, Scotland Soo Burnell

Still, David Buivid, the exhibition’s executive producer, doesn’t think any one specific element makes a photo look like it resembles something Wes Anderson made.

“You know it when you see it. There is a bit of delight, some essence of whimsy, some pastel color palette, maybe some symmetry,” says Buivid in a video for Euronews. “For us, it’s something a bit more intangible, because we have to relate the image to a story, and if the story isn’t there, it is not an ‘Accidental Wes Anderson’ project.”

These photos are not, however, supposed to look like they come from an existing Wes Anderson production. Instead, as Wally Koval tells the Guardian’s Joanne O'Connor, they “should look like [they] came from a film that has never been produced and may never be produced but it would be awesome if it was.”

Kaeson Station, Pyongyang Metro
Kaeson Station, Pyongyang Metro Dave Kulesza

A big part of the project’s appeal is the way it “democratizes” photography, he adds. The couple gets thousands of submissions every month, mostly from amateur photographers. Similarly, the majority of the photographs on view in the exhibition aren’t taken by professionals.

In this spirit, the exhibition allows visitors to submit their own photos of London, some of which will be displayed in the room dedicated to the city.

“Our mission has always been the same since we started AWA in 2017—to provide a daily dose of delight and inspire a sense of adventure and curiosity for all that wish to participate,” says Wally Koval in a statement. “We hope that this experience can do just that for everyone that visits.”

Accidentally Wes Anderson: The Exhibition” is now on view in London.

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