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Things Get Weird at the New Museum Of Illusions

Visual tricks for kids and selfies.
2019-08-20 13:00:00
Photos: Brandon McGhee

Looking for something to do with the kids before they start school again next week?
If they've already been to the Harry Potter Café in Hongqiao, then consider this: the Croatian Museum of Illusions.

The MOI started in Zagreb and has taken off internationally. They now have museums in 16 cities and counting. This, their first location in China, opened in mid-July. The idea is basically to get your optic nerve so confused that you leave the building questioning the fabric of reality and struggle to resume normal life. Or, hey, just to have a laugh. Behold, the logic-defying stuff you will encounter.

There are 19 illusions on display in total, plus a bunch of puzzles and games. No time limit is attached to the price of the ticket but when one of the staff tells you that it took someone two years to solve the puzzle, that's not an invitation to post up there until 2021. The puzzles are fun but quickly become impossibly frustrating.

You are encouraged to take your own photos by the attentive staff helping you wrap your head around what you are seeing, plus there is a professional photographer hovering around whose shot you can pay extra for. Some exhibits require a bit of nous to get the angles right.

The museum highlights would have to be the loss of balance experienced in the vortex room, the camera trickery of the Ames room and the terrifying face-splicer mirror illusion. All are great, albeit occasionally unnerving, additions to your Insta or WeChat Moments.

The rotated room is good fun, too.

MOI is an entertaining place to spend part of an afternoon. All age groups will appreciate it but kids especially will have a blast here because they haven't properly figured out object permanence and depth perception yet.

Standard ticket price is 138rmb per adult if you just turn up, but they have better deals on their WeChat mini-program available in August that can be bought in advance. Single tickets are 108rmb, two together is 208rmb, one child (aged 5-12) and one adult is 188rmb, two adults and one child is 288rmb, or 128rmb for a single ticket and either a coffee or a snack at their onsite cafe.

Update (May 2020): Ticket prices have been raised. Single tickets are 158rmb, two-person packages are 308rmb, and family packages (three people) is 415rmb. Tickets are available on SmartTicket.

Group visits like birthday parties and team building exercises can be organized 14 days in advance. Visit the Shanghai MOI website for more info.

Museum of Illusions, 2/F, 168 Jiujiang Lu, near Jiangxi Zhong Lu. Full listing here.