A version of the Ames Room illusion where one person appears large and the other appears small at the Museum of Illusions in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

More Than Meets The Eye: A Visit to the Museum of Illusions in New York City

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.

A version of the Beuchet Chair illusion at the Museum of Illusions in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Care to take a seat?

Infinity Mirror room at the Museum of Illusions in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Mirror illusion at the Museum of Illusions in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
How many wives can you handle?

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.

Flip photo in a sideways room at the Museum of Illusions in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Just a one-arm handstand, no big deal 🙂
Head on a platter illusion at the Museum of Illusions in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Hey honey, who’s for dinner?

Exceed your expectations You should definitely think outside the box sign at the Museum of Illusions in New York City via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

For more fun ideas, check out our Local’s Guide to New York City. It’s the guide we send to our friends and family!

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

Exterior of La Esquina Taqueria with brightly colored Jarritos bottles line up below the counter via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The Taqueria
Bright blue shelves holding records and books in front of a counter in La Esquine Cafe via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The Cafe
Guacamole with chips and salsa at La Esquina via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Guacamole with chips and salsa
Coliflor and Pescado a las Brasas tacos at La Esquina via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Coliflor and Pescado a las Brasas tacos
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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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Pic of the infinity mirror in the Museum of Illusions in NYC via Mad Hatters NYC blog.

– L. & J.

26 thoughts on “More Than Meets The Eye: A Visit to the Museum of Illusions in New York City”

  1. This is a really fun post! Justin, didn’t know you were able to do a one arm handstand. That’s impressive! And Lynn, you looked delicious served up for dinner. This museum looks like a interesting place to spend a morning. It would pair well with the Escher exhibit in Industrial City. Looking forward to McSorely’s.

    1. Hey Tip! Thanks for leaving us a comment! Had I actually attempted to do that handstand, I would be typing this from an emergency room…while in traction. 😛 I’ve never wished for Lynn’s head on a platter, but I definitely found it pretty amusing. The Escher museum really is the perfect pairing, though by the end, I bet one’s eyes would feel like they had been put through an eye doctor’s pupil dilation test. You’d have to wear those silly disposable glasses for the rest of the day. McSorely’s will be lots of fun. See you and Jam soon!

    1. Hey, Dippy! Justin here. Thanks for checking out our “act”. We may have to take it on the road. 😛 As for Lynn’s dress, I loved it, too. She always knows how to pick the right outfit for the right moment. It’s something I admire about her, particularly since I’m about as basic as it gets when it comes to fashion. Shoes? Check. Belt? Check. Did I remember to wear pants? Fantastic. Good to go! 😉

  2. Oh gosh! I had a wide smile going through your post and seeing the quirky photos you guys took.
    Also great Taqueria. We’re always looking for new Mexican places to try!

    1. Hey Tara! Justin here. I had a feeling you would approve of our silliness. A smile is exactly what we were going for. And who doesn’t need a new Mexican place to try? I could see you digging into those tri-color cauliflower tacos, for sure. 😀

    1. Talents I wasn’t even aware of, Polly. Actually, with my clumsiness, I’m shocked I didn’t injure myself while doing that innocuous little stunt. Btw, I looooove Don’t Come Around Here No More. As always, thanks for reading and leaving us a comment. 😉

    1. I don’t know about staying overnight. That would probably freak me out. A little too sterile for me, and sound tends to carry a bit. Although, I could see it being converted into an amazing haunted house.

  3. I love the pictures you took at the museum! You two look great! Such a great alternative pick for a museum. Did you go on Museum Day? I’ve been out of the loop for restaurants lately but I will add this one to my list, thank you for the suggestion.

    1. Trudy! Justin here. Hey, thanks so much for checking out our post. Those pictures are a fair representation of how much we enjoyed ourselves while we were goofing around. We didn’t go during Museum Day, but I don’t believe they participated anyway. They are quite new. Hope you enjoy La Esquina when you get a chance to check it out. Let us know what you think!

  4. This looks like so much fun, and I love to see you two hamming it up! The basement dining room at La Esquina would really be an experience, but I’d be happy in that cute cafe too. I really can’t imagine how they achieve some of these illusions. Guess I need to study up on my science. The pic of Lynn with her head on a plate reminds me of an unfortunate episode of Alfred Hitchcock’s TV show I watched as a teenager. I just can’t look at it. I may not sleep. 😉

    1. Cynthia! So glad you dropped by to read the post. I had a feeling you’d like this one. It doesn’t take much for us to ham it up, though. La Esquina is pretty cute in general. And as an added bonus, you have tacos. Who doesn’t like tacos? As for Lynn’s pic where it appears her head is on a plate, now I have to hunt down that Hitchcock episode. Doesn’t ring a bell when I think back to watching the television show.

      1. The head was in an ice bucket, actually, but it still brought back memories. You never saw it, only imagined it. That’s what I love about Hitchcock! You in that seemingly enormous chair, however, is creating very fond memories 😉

        1. Ah, the ice bucket. Technically even more macabre. Leaving the horror all to your imagination. As for the chair, I will say this: looked funny, wasn’t comfortable (just a concrete block). 😛

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