Instagrammable moments, or should we say “immersive experiences” at interactive museums in NYC, are taking over the Big Apple. Whether located in a pop-up space, museum, or major retail store, these photo ops are awfully pretty and fabulous fun to visit. There’s the selfie-friendly Color Factory, cutting-edge art spot ARTECHOUSE, and offbeat picks like Stranger Things: The Experience. Each of these cool museums and experiences will make great fodder for your Insta feed, only in the endlessly photographable New York City.
The 10 Best Interactive Museums in NYC
Part ride. Part museum. All New York. Soar over the city at RiseNY, a three-part, one-of-a-kind experience new to Manhattan. Step back in time to 1904 as you visit NYC’s very first subway station at City Hall and watch an immersive film by documentarian Ric Burns, voiced by actor Jeff Goldblum, which showcases how NYC became the crossroads of the world. From there you can journey through seven exhibits including Fashion, Music, Movies, and more. After excellent photo ops, you'll take flight on a first-ever soaring ride and experience the sights, sounds, and smells of Big Apple icons. 160 W. 45th St., 601-228-2201, riseny.co
2. The Museum of Ice Cream
Among the first of its kind, The Museum of Ice Cream enjoyed a sweet stint in Manhattan beginning in 2016. Now it’s back at a permanent location with even more space to play in. Check out the three-story slide that ends in a pool of sprinkles, and walk through a hall of ice cream scoops. There's also branded ice cream to taste and very cute MOIC merch to take home. 558 Broadway, museumoficecream.com, @museumoficecream
Head to the historic boiler room of Chelsea Market to experience the immersive art space ARTECHOUSE. You’ve never seen art like this before, as room-sized digital projections merge with sound design to create a cinematic experience. Opening this Saturday, May 14th, is Life of a Neuron, which draws on decades of neuroscience research to create a cellular-level journey through the human brain. Come explore the intersections of art and science and discover new layers of a universal human experience—the story of ourselves. The main installation is joined by additional immersive artworks. You can also grab a drink at the newly opened XR Bar. 439 W. 15th St., #artechouseNYC, @artechouse, artechouse.com
4. Color Factory
Color Factory, a massive interactive art space, began in August 2017 in San Francisco. Wildly popular, the project has set up shop in Soho as of last summer. Designed by a wide spectrum of artists, Color Factory walks visitors through 16 rooms devoted to the wonder of color. You’re invited to compliment someone using color words, discover your signature color, and read wishes for the world written by NYC school children on varicolored balloons. Each room is equipped with a camera that can take a picture of you and send it to your phone: the better to post with! 251 Spring St., email@example.com, colorfactory.co, @colorfactoryco
5. Museum of Illusions
The Museum of Illusions NYC is great photographic fun, as you'll be able to laugh, scream, run, take selfies, and generally do the kinds of things they don't allow in other museums. You (or your prankster friend) can even become a head on a platter. There’s also an Anti-Gravity Room, an Infinity Room (a hall of mirrors for the 21st century), and a room where you’ll walk on walls. Nothing is as it seems; it’s all illusion, and all incredible! 77 Eighth Ave., 212-645-3230, newyork.museumofillusions.us, @moi_newyork
6. Arcadia Earth
Arcadia Earth in NoHo is a one-hour immersive exhibit created by an artist collective. Augmented reality messages, virtual reality animations, and interactive environments will teleport you into a journey through the planet. For every ticket sold, Arcadia Earth will plant one tree and donate to charity partner Oceanic Global. New to the museum is the world's first mixed-reality environmental art exhibit. Making use of Microsoft's augmented reality HoloLens, the new add-on lets you mix it up with interactive holograms. Get a new perspective on the planet while helping support environmental organizations. 718 Broadway, tickets.arcadia-earth.com/event/arcadia-earth, arcadia.earth, @arcadiaearth
7. Madame Tussauds New York
New York City is famous for its gala culture. For the first time ever, you can immerse yourself in the scene right in Times Square. The Madame Tussauds flagship holds 19 celebrities, including new and never-before-seen wax figures of Ariana Grande and P. Diddy, at the just-opened Glow Gala. Many of the figures, including RuPaul, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry, are wearing illuminated, show-stopping looks inspired by New York’s legendary Met Gala. The exhibition comes to life with state-of-the-art projection technology and dramatic lighting, choreographed to a New York City-centric soundtrack. Floral walls and neon art provide a perfect backdrop for photo ops. 234 W. 42nd St., nycwax.com
8. The Museum of Sex
Museum of Sex's pop up exhibit Super Funland: Journey into the Erotic Carnival examines the sexual history of the carnival. An interactive exhibition of 13 erotically charged games and amusements allows visitors to lose themselves in the carnality, decadence, and joy of a reimagined carnival. You'll also pick up some history along the way, as the exhibit looks at the bacchanalian origins of the carnival in ancient Greece and Rome and its evolution in pre-industrial Europe and the “midway” of the great World’s Fairs of the 20th century. 233 Fifth Ave., 212-689-6337, museumofsex.com
9. Sloomoo Institute
Have "the slime of your life" at Sloomoo Institute, a new pop up sensory playground. Activate your senses of touch, sound, and scent through endless vats of slime waiting to be played with. There's also a an immersive ASMR tunnel. a glow-in-the-dark cove, an EEG machine to show your brain “on slime,” and a 150-foot long DIY bar where you can design your dream slime. 475 Broadway, sloomooinstitute.com
10. SUMMIT One Vanderbilt
Blending elements of art, technology, architecture, and thrill, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt takes the concept of an “observation deck” to entirely new heights through its three levels of multi-sensory experiences. Look for immersive art installations on top of stunning midtown views, both day or night. 45 E. 42nd St., 877-682-1401, summitov.com
8 Fun, Interactive Pop Up Museums in NYC
If you’ve ever wanted a tour of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, you’ll get a taste at Candytopia (without the imminent peril). Dive into a ball pit of marshmallows, view portraits made of candy, and take pics with candy-striped backgrounds and a life-sized emoji. Candytopia is conveniently located near Herald Square, Penn Station, and the Macy’s flagship store. 111 W. 32nd St., candytopia.com, @thecandytopia
2. The Climate Museum
The Climate Museum’s mission is to inspire action on the climate crisis with programming across the arts and sciences. Opening on Saturday, October 8th is the museum's first Manhattan pop up, running for three months. The focus is a major new work, Someday, all this by draughtsman and sculptor David Opdyke. The exhibition is paired with a climate action incubator, where visitors can engage with the artwork. The ultimate goal is to deepen understanding, build connections, and advance just solutions.
3. Stranger Things: The Experience
Ever wanted to be the protagonist of a Stranger Things adventure? Stranger Things: The Experience, open now in Brooklyn, throws you headfirst into your favorite show—join Eleven, Dustin, Mike, Lucas, Max, and Will for a very special episode starring…you! Venture inside Hawkins Lab for a 1-hour immersive experience featuring a brand-new Stranger Things storyline, then explore an ’80s-themed Mix-Tape medley with food and drinks, special merch, photo ops, and more. Closes September 4th!
4. The Friends Experience
Step inside the world of Friends! With two floors of immersive experiences, The Friends Experience is the ultimate outing for fans of the beloved TV series. Pose on the iconic orange couch, sit at Monica and Rachel’s kitchen table, kick back and relax in Joey and Chandler’s comfy chairs, and so much more. At this flagship NYC location fans can also buy coffee and pastries at the grab & go cafe in Central Perk. 130 E. 23rd St., friendstheexperience.com
5. Cricket’s Candy Creations
Cricket's Candy Creations is a Hudson Square pop-up that lets kids get messy with their favorite medium: candy. There's a Candy Kitchen with Silly Sushi and Bogus Burgers, a place to make a Tasty Trinket, edible slime (it comes in three flavors, Birthday Cake, Gummy Bear, and Candy Slime), a Chocolate Chamber, Lollipop Lounge, and much more. 200 Hudson St., cricketscandy.com
6. Gold in Motion
Art meets tech at the inaugural Hall des Lumières exhibition, Gustav Klimt: Gold in Motion. The Austrian symbolist painter’s most iconic works come to life using cutting-edge mapping technology. You’ll enter a world of gold and color as an original soundtrack plays. In addition to a journey through Klimt (1862-1918), you’ll also be inspired by the Klimt-inspired Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and two contemporary creations. Set in Lower Manhattan’s former Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank, Hall des Lumières brings the Beaux-Arts landmark back to life with art that complements the ornate interior. Open daily; special family discount rates available for 2 kids and 2 adults. 49 Chambers St., halldeslumieres.com
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