Weekend Break: Museum of Illusions

CHICAGO — There’s a place in the Loop, in the heart of downtown Chicago, that’s a playground for the mind, where people can explore and see new perspectives.

It’s a place that combines entertainment and education. Call it “edu-tainment.”

The Museum of Illusions, a worldwide chain with more than 50 locations, opened a Chicago branch in 2020 at 25 East Washington Street. A wonderland of optical illusions, the Museum of Illusions aims to simultaneously entertain and educate.

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“We’re really a different kind of concept, because we’re a true mash-up between a museum rooted in education and an attraction that’s all about the fun,” explains Stacy Stec, director of sales and marketing for the Museum of Illusions.

“We call this ‘edu-tainment.’ … We’re very family-friendly. We’re great for all ages. Everybody likes illusions. They’re interesting.”

At the Chicago location, visitors will find more than 80 optical illusions and immersive rooms. But the immersion experience is also meant to foster learning.

“The educational part is really what sets us apart from a lot of other immersive attractions out there,” Stec says. “When you come to the Museum of Illusions, you learn about vision, perception, and how our brain perceives reality.

“So you do learn a lot while you’re here.”

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The space in Chicago takes about an hour to complete, Stec says, so it’s a perfect addition for visitors enjoying a day in the Loop.

“It is the perfect thing to add to your itinerary downtown when you’re here in Chicago,” Stec says.

According to Stec, adding the Chicago location was an important addition for the Museum of Illusions, and it’s designed with the Windy City in mind.

“We’re really proud to be here in Chicago,” Stec said. “And it was really important for us to bring in a little Chicago flair, as well.”

The Chicago location opened in 2020, but the space expanded in November and was refreshed to give visitors some different experiences.

“It’s a completely new experience for anyone that’s been here a while back,” Stec said.

The Infinity Room, for example, is a hexagon-shaped space with mirrors on all sides, which creates the illusion of infinite space. And it’s now seasonally-themed to go with spring.

Stec says the Museum of Illusions is an especially popular destination for school field trips and that the STEM concepts it demonstrates are “very popular with teachers.”

But all sorts of people enjoy it.

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“We see families come through, we see date nights come through, groups of friends,” Stec said.

Ticket, time-slot and more information can be found online at moichicago.com. Stec says walk-in visitors can be accommodated if time and space permit, but she recommends booking online to help limit overcrowding.

And take as many pictures as you’d like.

“Not only are you learning something, but you get some really cool photos to take home and share on your social media, too,” Stec says.

“… Illusions are really interesting, because you have to capture the illusion perfectly in order for it to work.”

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