There’s a saying that goes “Ask no questions, and you’ll hear no lies”. Being duped isn’t generally what one considers a positive experience, but the Museum of Illusions might be able to convince you otherwise. Optical illusions play with motion, color, patterns and space to create images that, when processed by the brain, create a perception that doesn’t match the true image in reality. Remember the viral phenomenon of 2015 where millions of people saw a black and blue dress as white and gold? (And if you do, have you made up with all the friends and family you disagreed with?) Well, that’s just one of many examples where the eyes can deceive.
The Museum of Illusions has outposts in cities all over the world. From Athens to Zagreb, fans of all ages enjoy exploring fun exhibits that use simple ideas and scientific concepts to trick the mind. At the Museum of Illusions in New York City, you’ll find the same family-friendly fun. Throughout its two floors, you can explore variations of the Beuchet Chair and Ames Room illusions, sophisticated holograms, games, and puzzles. And if you missed out on the Yayoi Kusama exhibit last year, you’ll find a version of the Infinity Mirrors room here.
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
We were right at home at the Museum of Illusions. It’s a page right out of Alice in Wonderland, after all, with everything upside down and topsy-turvy. We don’t usually love to be photographed, but we got a kick out of hamming it up and, for certain exhibits, swapping places. It’s like having your own Drink Me Potion and Eat Me Cake, even if just for a little while. The museum is a fun way to while away a few hours, and you definitely leave feeling like your brain got a fun workout too.
Here are some tips to make your visit more enjoyable:
Go early. It would seem obvious, but it’s particularly important in this case. Staging and taking your perfect shot takes a bit of time, orchestration, and repetition. We were there right at open and were able to work through the exhibits at our own pace, but by the time we left many people were waiting for their turn in certain rooms.
Ask for help. There’s a sample picture by each exhibit to give you ideas on how you could stage your shot, as well as some cues on the ground to show you where to stand. But don’t be ashamed to ask the staff for help: they have some great ideas and are more than happy to snap a pic for you.
Bring a plus one. There are definitely some exhibits in which you can easily take a picture yourself, but we would recommend going with at least one other person. Pictures of certain exhibits shine when you have a partner in crime. In fact, families and large groups of friends will have a blast here. We ran into a set of twins, as well as families with young kids. We heard a little girl squeal “It’s magic!,” and you know what? It often felt like it was.
If the Museum of Illusions leaves you wanting more, be sure to check out our friends Tip and JAM in Wonderland’s experience at the Escher Exhibition and Experience.
77 8th Ave
Daily 9 am -10 pm
Pair it with:
A meal at La Esquina
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New York City is full of surprises, as long as you know where to look. From secret speakeasies to secret menu items, it’s always fun to feel like you’re in the know. But when it comes to food, something gimmicky can be a sign that disappointing fare awaits. Not so at La Esquina’s flagship SoHo location.
The cute spot has a taco take-out window with some tables that offer prime people-watching (the Taqueria), and it also has a dining room which offers a more robust menu (the Cafe). But what La Esquina offers in the way of the unexpected is their subterranean brasserie, with its secret entrance that leads through the kitchen to get to the basement dining room. It’s been known for many years as a buzzy nightspot, with frequent celebrity sightings and impossible-to-get, you-have-to-know-someone type reservations. But these days La Esquina’s brasserie isn’t quite as difficult to get into, so with a little bit of advanced planning you can enjoy New York City-style Mexican fare in a sexy, hip setting.
114 Kenmare St
Taqueria and Cafe Daily 11 am -2 am
Brasserie Daily 6pm – 2am
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