WNDR Museum: Everything you need to know
Recently, our family was able to experience the newly reopened WNDR Museum, and it was an amazing experience! The WNDR (pronounced “wonder”) Museum is a fully interactive art and technology extravaganza, and it fully lives up to its name. The museum gave our family a huge thrill. It’s just so, so cool. I’d love to walk you through the fascinating concept so you can plan a visit for yourself! It’s such a great destination for the summer, and a wonderful way to awaken your creative energy, especially as the world begins to reopen.
What is the WNDR Museum?
The WNDR Museum is a chance to interact with art in a whole new way. Contemporary artists have designed exhibits that you can engage with. The WNDR Museum is located in Chicago’s West Loop, and it’s a great destination for a summer driveable trip, or for a staycation in the city if you live nearby.
The installations are designed to help you reflect, make you think about things in a new way, or just enjoy something that looks really incredible. The installations ask visitors to scan QR codes to read more about each artist and their work, so you’ll be learning all along the way. Post COVID, the museum has reopened with 20 new exhibits, so even if you’ve visited before, this is the perfect time to come see all that the Museum offers now.
What’s special about WNDR Museum?
I think we can all agree that it’s more fun when you can get involved! It can be difficult to involve kids in art, and the WNDR Museum was something we could experience and enjoy with our toddler or our older kids. The WNDR Museum stands out from other “interactive” museums because it truly cannot be complete without audience participation.
WNDR Museum was voted one of the top five immersive art experiences in the country by USA Today’s Reader Poll. It was easy to see why when we visited; there were so many different ways to be wowed as we moved through the displays. Even if you’re not typically an art lover, this style of art can capture even a reluctant audience!
Choose it for a family trip and watch everyone be won over. It combines the elements that we find so captivating about social media and weaves it through art pieces that challenge what we’re typically drawn to.
What kind of things will you see at the WNDR Museum?
At the beginning of the exhibits, we were amazed to see robots that paint by themselves! They were taught about a local artist and pieces of artwork, and they interact independently with black ink on white paper to create something brand new. Close to the entrance as well, there are digitized installations that accept words and suggestions from guests, then modify their shapes and colors. So cool to be able to influence how the art looks, all while standing and watching!
We also enjoyed the optical illusion room that appears to change the size of people inside it! You may have seen this on Instagram; just by standing on opposite sides of the room, one person appears to be a giant and the other miniature. A great photo op, and a chance to understand how optical illusions work.
One of our very favorite parts was the light floor! Step onto the floor and watch incredible, colorful patterns swirl out from your feet with each movement. It’s so much fun for any age, and, if I’m being honest… what a perfect Instagram moment! We jumped and hopped and danced and loved watching the colors leap out from our feet. It was fun for the whole family.
There are several exhibits that also ask you to scan a QR code and upload a selfie that’s included right in the installation, along with the faces of hundreds of other people. What a neat way to remember that we’re all part of each other’s story in some way, even if it’s just that we’ve all visited the WNDR Museum.
Take the WNDR Museum experience home with the WNDR Shop
Once you’ve made your way through the exhibits, you can stop and take advantage of the brand new WNDR Museum Shop! The Shop features WNDR-branded merchandise, and also includes pieces from local makers and artists for purchase. It’s a great way to bring home a souvenir or memory from your trip. We had fun exploring different, much smaller artworks that were made by Chicago locals.
WNDR Museum features the work of world renowned artists
The amazing Infinity Mirrored Room was created by Yayoi Kusama, an incredibly talented Japanese artist. It’s one of the most celebrated pieces in the museum. Besides Kusama’s work, WNDR wants to make sure to highlight the work of Keith Haring to their guests. Haring designed his pieces for public view, and intended that everyone should be able to see them for free, so to honor his desire, those pieces are displayed in the windows of the WNDR Museum for all to see!
The perfect post-Covid adventure
Even as everything begins to open up, it still feels great to know that safety measures are in place to help everyone experience the museum and stay well. WNDR Museum has implemented comprehensive safety enhancements. One thoughtful change they’ve made is a designated hour for first responders to enjoy the museum free of charge. In addition, the WNDR Museum is now open 7 days a week! This is the perfect time to plan a visit and kickstart a new chapter after a challenging year. We really enjoyed our visit and think you will as well. Whether you love art museums or not, this one is a truly unique experience.