Seattle Culture

Mind-Bending Fun

Seattle’s newest museum will turn your world upside down

By Sarah Stackhouse June 21, 2024

The new Museum of Illusions will feature over 9,000 square feet of holograms, illusion rooms, and astonishing exhibits.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

This isn’t your typical museum visit. 

Step into the “Tilted Room,” where nothing is quite as it seems. Get ready to question what’s up and what’s down in the “Vortex Tunnel.” And lose yourself in the walk-in “Kaleidoscope Room,” where you’ll be mesmerized by colorful, ever-changing patterns.

A vortex tunnel

Photo courtesy of Museum of Illusions

The colorful walk-in kaleidoscope

Photo courtesy of Museum of Illusions

The Museum of Illusions is all about messing with your perception and making you question what’s real. It opens in downtown Seattle on June 28 in a 9,000-square-foot space in the historic eight-story Skinner Building (home to the 5th Avenue Theatre). With nearly 50 locations in 25 countries and more than 15 million visitors worldwide, it’s the largest chain of privately held museums in the world. It is headquartered in New York City.

Some of the exhibits are specially curated and unique to the Emerald City, including the “Reversed Room” and the “Building Illusion” exhibit, where you’ll appear to be upside down on the monorail or dangling off a Seattle skyscraper.

“The Museum of Illusions has found the perfect home in Seattle, a city deeply celebrated for its trailblazing technology, innovation, and curiosity,” says Museum CEO Kim Schaefer. “Our team prides itself on staying at the forefront of illusionary arts, continuously unveiling new exhibits to ensure our museum remains a pioneering hub of creativity and discovery.”

The Symmetry Room

Photo courtesy of Museum of Illusions

The museum blends art, science, and psychology to create an immersive experience

Photo courtesy of Museum of Illusions

Printed illusions

Photo courtesy of Museum of Illusions

These kinds of playful, creative spaces bring a lot of fun to any city. I remember going to the Exploratorium in San Francisco as a kid. There was a large phosphorescent screen covering an entire wall. A strobe light would flash and capture everyone’s glowing shadow on the wall. You could create layers of shadows that lingered for a few moments, playing with the light and your silhouette. It was magical and unforgettable.

Tickets to the Museum of Illusions start at $27. Walk-ins are welcome, but it’s recommended that you reserve your spot. The museum will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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