NYC Museum Of Illusions Plays Tricks On The Senses

The Museum of Illusions kaleidoscope features visitors instead of colorful paper and pearls. (Photos courtesy of the Museum of Illusions)

When walking down Eighth Avenue on a Saturday night, one may become confused at the sight of a lengthy line waiting outside of a massive stone building with intricate designs on the corner of 14th Street. What could they possibly be waiting for in this 10 degree weather? They’re waiting to have their senses distorted, while snapping some photos for Instagram, sure to make their friends jealous, in the Museum of Illusions.

CEO of the museum, Renne Gjoni said the museum is not just about getting that perfect picture for the ’gram.

“At this museum, they learn a couple things too; they do learn and experience something different,” said Gjoni of visitors. “They do question why their brains play tricks on them or their eye plays tricks with their brain. With everything that’s going on today, we hope people who leave look at the world slightly different.”

Having started in Croatia in 2015, the museum’s concept combines architecture, design, psychology and math with some classic illusions and more illusions from the 19th century.
This fun museum offers a great place to take a cool photo with a friend in different rooms, with exhibits from photo or optical illusions to rooms that may make one dizzy.

View photo illusions with unusual backgrounds, optical illusions that confuse the eyes and the brain—a reminder that the senses are imperfect and perceptions of the world are often distorted—and holograms that show the story of evolution.

While some museums do not allow visitors to partake in its art installations, the Museum of Illusions is the exact opposite. From the bottomless pit to a kaleidoscope created by visitors instead of the usual patterns, to a chance to become a head on a platter, the Museum of Illusions has something for everyone.

“I remember the first Saturday we opened, Sept. 22, 2018, this gentleman from Long Island called before it opened and said he want to celebrate his 70th birthday with 22 family members at the museum,” said Gjoni. “He brought his children, grandchildren, sisters. This 70-year-old gentleman had a blast in this museum and right after that we had a birthday party with a bunch of kids.”

Along with birthday parties, events and group visits, Gjoni said the museum sees many couples on dates, including two couples who have gotten engaged with the backdrop of illusions, and patrons who have already visited more than four times.

Along with installations, the museum has various rooms meant to boggle minds, including the rotated room, which seems to be the latest craze on social media newsfeeds. The chair illusion allows one to appear small on a chair next to someone who appears at a normal size, while the Ames room offers a similar concept, but without the chair. The infinity room allows one to take a photo at every angle all at once, as it is a room of mirrors.

“My office is above the color room and I could hear people talk and they all say, ‘Oh, this is the Instagram room,’” said Gjoni of visitors’ favorite room. “A few weeks later, it was the reverse room and there were masses of people waiting to go in the ‘Instagram room.’ A couple weeks later it was the Ames room. It just comes and goes. I have no idea why it’s popular. Social media has a funny way of attracting people.”

Visitors explore the illusions on display.

While visitors’ tastes change each week, Gjoni said his favorite room is the tilted room.
“It’s more sensory illusion,” said Gjoni. It’s a very simple room with a tilted floor, mirror and ceiling. When you look in the mirror, you feel like you’re losing your balance and then once you close your eyes, you realize it’s just messing with you and then you open your eyes again.”

The 5,000-square-foot museum located at 77 Eighth Ave., New York, has had more than 120,000 visitors since it opened and is looking to expand to create more rooms and installations in the future.

For tickets, visit For more information on group visits, birthday parties or events, call 212-645-3230 or email

“If people want to forget about reality, they should come visit us,” said Gjoni.

Christina Claus
Christina Claus is the former editor of Port Washington News.

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