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Interactive Museums NYC: 21 Fun Museums, Pop Up Exhibits, and Other Instagram-Worthy Moments

Immersive experiences are waiting for you in NYC.

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 Interactives in NYC

INTER_

INTER_

New hyper-sensory environment INTER_ in SoHo/Tribeca 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

IMAGINARI

imaginari monarch

NYC’s newest attraction is Tribeca’s IMAGINARI. This immersive exhibition space redefines the traditional museum experience by blending art, science, and entertainment. You’ll enter an oasis that shows off the insect world in a new light. Awe-inspiring installations include towering 6-foot insects, a sprawling milkweed garden, and a magnificent cherry tree enveloped by blossoms and monarch butterflies. Even the sound adds to the immersion, with a bespoke soundtrack composed of Hz frequencies. Special summer pricing now in effect, $30 general admission! 200 Hudson St., imaginarico.com

Mercer Labs: Museum of Art and Technology

museum of art and technology mercer labs

Image: Museum of Art and Technology.

Newly opened in the Financial District, the Mercer Labs Museum of Art and Technology brings together 15 experimental exhibition spaces, interactive experiences, unique listening encounters, and immersive installations. Experimental artist Roy Nachum is behind the creative vision. 21 Dey St., mercerlabs.com

Color Factory

color factory soho

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., support@colorfactory.co, colorfactory.co, @colorfactoryco

ARTECHOUSE
atrechouse ase afro frequencies

Credit: ARTECHOUSE.

Head to the historic boiler room of Chelsea Market to experience the immersive space ARTECHOUSE, NYC's original home for digital art. You’ve never seen art like this before, as room-sized digital projections merge with sound design to create a cinematic experience.  Current exhibition Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies features the work of London-based Afro-Surrealist digital artist Vince Fraser. The visuals are accompanied by rhythmic drums and a stirring performance from Philadelphia-based poet and musician ursula rucker. (While you’re here, grab a drink at The XR Bar, an extended reality bar powered by the ARTECHOUSE XR App.) 439 W. 15th St., #artechouseNYC, @artechouse, artechouse.com

Bloomtanica

bloomtanica

Genesis House in the Meatpacking District is now hosting a real-world-meets-digital immersive experience. Celebrity floral artist Jeff Leatham is behind the design, which takes inspiration from Korean gardens. It's free, through June 9th. 40A Tenth Ave., 855-444-0836, genesishouse.com

BLOOM: The Secret Wonders of New York’s Forgotten Eden

bloom hero eden

Rockefeller Center immersive HERO has launched a new nature-inspired experience. BLOOM: The Secret Wonders of New York’s Forgotten Eden takes inspiration from America's first botanical garden, The Elgin Garden, which was located right where Rock Center is today. Go on a seed's journey from root to bloom through spaces like the Mushroom Forest and The Conservatory (the latter stocks libations). There’s also photo ops, interactive digital content, soundscapes, and scentscapes. Rockefeller Center, Rink Level, 15 W. 49th St., hero-nyc.com

The Museum of Ice Cream

museum of ice cream subway

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

SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

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

Museum of Illusions

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

Madame Tussauds New York

glow gala ariana grande

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.

icons of horror madame tussauds

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

super funland 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

Sloomoo Institute

sloomoo slime world

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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

Harry Potter: The Exhibition

harry potter the exhibition

Harry Potter: The Exhibition near Herald Square is the most comprehensive touring exhibition ever presented on Harry Potter and the entire Wizarding World. Tickets are on sale now at  new-york.harrypotterexhibition.com. With a special bracelet synched up to interactive stations, guests can choose a Patronus, cast a spell, explore the Hogwarts Classrooms (the Herbology room smells amazing!), and brew potions. The exhibition includes costumes, props, and magical environments using best-in-class immersive design and technology. Stop in the shop for Butterbeer and a large selection of Potter merchandise. Score points throughout the exhibit for your house and you'll be emailed highlights from your experience. 50 W. 34th St., harrypotterexhibition.com

RiseNY

riseny talk show

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

The Museum of Broadway

phantom of the opera

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.

THC NYC

thc in nyc

The first-ever immersive destination exploring cannabis has put down roots in SoHo. THC NYC provides a multi-sensory journey through 10 exhibitions spanning art, music, fashion, and more. The Green Room is available for chilling and on Saturday and Sunday afternoons you can watch live glassblowing. 427 Broadway, thcnyc.com

American Museum of Natural History

invisible worlds gilder center
Photo: Iwan Baan.

The Natural History Museum's long-awaited Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation has opened to the public. In addition to stunning architecture, there's also a permanent butterfly vivarium, an insectarium dedicated to the most diverse group of creatures on the planet, and the immersive experience Invisible Worlds, pictured here. The exhibition lets you explore networks of life at all scales, including several invisible to the human eye. You'll become part of the story as your movements influence the projections around you. The range of experiences is amazing, including satellite networks, the human brain, interactions in Central Park, jellyfish, the Brazilian rainforest, and a humpback whale. 415 Columbus Ave., 212-769-5100 amnh.org

Fun, Interactive Pop Up Museums in NYC

Banksy Museum

banksy museum nyc

Image courtesy the Banksy Museum.

He may be anonymous, but he's one of the world's most famous artists. The world's largest collection of Banksy’s life-sized murals and artwork is now open in NYC. An immersive experience, the Banksy Museum also features some of the artist's studio work, animated visual elements, and videos. 277 Canal St., museumbanksy.com

The Friends Experience

the friends experience new york

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

Cricket’s Candy Creations

choc chamber kids cricket's

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

Find immersive experiences of a theatrical bent here.

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About the Author

Ethan Wolff is the author of numerous guidebooks to New York, having covered the city for more than two decades. He has written for New York Magazine, BlackBook, and Details, among others. In addition to his work as the editor of City Guide, Ethan covers NYC’s talk and lecture scene for the website Thought Gallery. He lives with his wife and two daughters in the Windsor Terrace neighborhood of Brooklyn.

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