A permanent installation called The Museum of Illusions is opening in the landmarked Bank Building on the corner of 14th Street and Eighth Avenue (on September 20th), and eye-rolling comparisons to the likes of Candytopia, Room For Tea and 29 Rooms are inevitable and not entirely unwarranted. The organizers of this Croatian import are indeed marketing their museum as something of an Instagram-friendly funhouse, and there are some pretty good social media snap opportunities throughout, though you won't find any ball pits.
Instead, there are about 70 different optical illusions (and one or two "sensory" ones) on display, but most are flat images on the wall. And even some of the most interesting interactive ones, like the "share your face with a stranger" set up, don't really lend themselves to photographs, and are impossible to record as selfies, so the influencer set may stick to places like the Color Factory.
You've seen many of these illusions before—the forced perspective "Ames Room," the following eyes, your friend's disembodied head on a table—and they're all still enjoyable. There's a True Mirror, which is always kind of freaky. The Thermal Grill feels alarmingly hot, like you've literally just burned your flesh, but it's actually cold. And the kaleidoscope portrait tube makes for a great photo.
Not everything works quite as well, however—there's a lame version of a Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room, and a knock off of her "ladder" series. And several of us who were invited to a media preview earlier this week couldn't really figure out how to operate a few things, such as the different-color-shadows area. Or is that all there was to it? But it's all mostly successful as a vaguely educational, overall entertaining outing.
The Museum of Illusions is located at 77 Eighth Avenue at the corner of 14th Street, and is open daily, starting tomorrow, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $19 for adults, $17 for students, $15 for kids between 6 and 13 (212-645-3230; museumofillusions.us)