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 the immersive art of INTER_. Each of these cool museums and experiences will make great fodder for your Insta feed, only in the endlessly photographable New York City.
The Best Interactive Museums in NYC
Photo courtesy ARTECHOUSE.
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. Coming soon is SPECTACULAR FACTORY: The Holiday Multiverse. Favorite holiday themes come to vibrant life as guests float among swinging jingle bells, crash the party of a thousand nutcrackers, take a spin on a candy cane carousel, and go on a thrilling train ride through holiday wreaths. Stop by the XR bar, which serves specialty holiday-themed cocktails augmented by enchanting XR experiences. (Chelsea Market is a great spot for holiday shopping and it offers dozens of options for artisanal bites.) SPECTACULAR FACTORY: The Holiday Multiverse is on view November 19th through January 8th, 2023. 439 W. 15th St., #artechouseNYC, @artechouse, artechouse.com
Color Factory, a massive interactive art space, began in 2017 in San Francisco. Wildly popular, the project has set up shop in SoHo. 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., firstname.lastname@example.org, colorfactory.co, @colorfactoryco
The Museum of Broadway
Photo: Monique Carboni.
The city’s newest destination is The Museum of Broadway in Times Square. This interactive, experiential museum journeys from the birth of Broadway to the present day, including a sneak peek behind the curtain into the making of a Broadway show. Costumes, props, rare photos, and videos are all on display.
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
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
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
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.
The season for shivers isn't over yet. The newest immersion at Madame Tussauds is Warner Bros. Icons of Horror. Incredible wax figures are set within four highly themed, fully immersive scenes. Celebrate legends, including Pennywise and Regan from The Exorcist, in chillingly lifelike detail. If you dare. 234 W. 42nd St., nycwax.com
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
Have "the slime of your life" at Sloomoo Institute, a 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 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
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
ArtsDistrict Brooklyn (AD/BK)
ArtsDistrict Brooklyn (AD/BK) is a new Brooklyn destination for mixed-media installations. More than 70 projection screens and cutting-edge sound design combine on the massive new immersive experience Limitless AI. There are also the intensive audio/theatre experiences Flight and Séance. 25 Franklin St., 272-242-9291, artsdistrictexperience.com
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
Fun, Interactive Pop Up Museums in NYC
Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience
Photo courtesy Timothy Norris.
Take a trip across the world and back in time as Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience opens on the Lower East Side, marking 100 years since the discovery of Tut's tomb. Explore one of the greatest archaeological breakthroughs of all time in a multi-gallery, multi-sensory exhibition presented by National Geographic. You'll be awed by the Temple at Karnak, the Great Sphinx, and the Egyptian sun as it rises above the Pyramids of Giza.
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
Titanic. The Exhibition
Immerse yourself in one of the greatest stories of the 20th century just a few blocks from the Titanic's intended destination at Pier 59 in Chelsea. Titanic. The Exhibition brings visitors back to 1912 through the stories of the ships's passengers, illuminated by photographs, letters, and keepsakes. You'll also get to walk through a recreation of the ship's interior, from a humble third-class cabin to a first-class suite.
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
Frida Kahlo Pop Up
Brooklyn’s newest art experience is Frida Kahlo, The Immersive Biography Exhibition, which takes visitors into the world of the influential Mexican artist and feminist icon. Seven transformational spaces, complete with 360-degree projections and virtual reality systems, draw on the key moments of Kahlo’s life. The show is open now in Dumbo, Brooklyn.
The Climate Museum
The Climate Museum’s mission is to inspire action on the climate crisis with programming across the arts and sciences. The focus of a new SoHo pop up 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. 120 Wooster St., climatemuseum.org
Immersive Art in SoHo
Just opened, new hyper-sensory environment INTER_ in SoHo will let you play with sound waves, interact with body movement, and immerse yourself in a dome. The journey takes cues from the elements, earth, wind, fire, water—and ether. 415 Broadway, interiam.co
Go on a 360-degree journey through the world of Claude Monet (1840-1926). Monet's Garden uses multi-sensory technology to open up the Father of Impressionism’s art and life, culminating in a waterlily immersion. Through January 8th, 2023. 30 Wall St., monetsgarden.venuetix.com
Down the Rabbit Hole
Immersive art experience Wonderland Dreams by Alexa Meade brings to life the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland through bold painting that will alter your sense of art—and reality. Look for secret rose gardens, mad tea parties, and a living gallery that puts you inside the frame. (The entire exhibit is hand-painted with amazing 3D effects.) 529 Fifth Ave., wonderlanddreams.com
Winter Lantern Festival
Okay, so it might be rushing the season, but it's really never to early to enjoy glowing immersive worlds. The SIUH Community Park on Staten Island has been transformed into a realm of light, cast by over one-thousand handmade Chinese lanterns. Journey To The East runs through January 8th. 75 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, winterlanternfestival.com
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
Six immersive holiday installations—think gingerbread girls, rugged lumberjacks, and living snow globes—greet you on your way to Santa’s secret speakeasy in Hudson Yards. Christmas cocktails and variety show acts that include live music, ballet, and burlesque complete the scene. Santa's Secret is open through New Year's Eve. The Shops at Hudson Yards, 20 Hudson Yards, 5th Floor, vossevents.com/santas-secret/
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
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