Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Museum of Illusions Seattle

Hanging upside down on Monorail illusion. Photo by JiaYing Grygiel

Museum of Illusions: Believe it when you see it

Seattle's newest immersive experience tricks the eye

You’ll hardly believe your eyes at Seattle’s new Museum of Illusions. Hang upside down on the Monorail, scale the side of a building, and set your decapitated head on a platter.

The museum’s 9,000 square feet of mind-bending tricks include more than 60 illusions, installations, images, and holograms. Opened June 28, it is a new permanent feature in downtown Seattle.

Museum of Illusion

Kaleidoscope. Photo by JiaYing Grygiel

Some of the highlights:

  • A vortex tunnel makes you feel like you’re spinning around and around. In reality, it’s just the wall moving while your walkway is perfectly still. Hold onto the handrails or close your eyes if you get really dizzy.
  • The mirrored infinity room lets you see versions of yourself ad infinitum. Infinity rooms are a hallmark of artist Yayoi Kusama’s work. Here, you get to take your time inside instead of being rushed in and out.
  • A room which plays with scale. Stand in one corner and you appear tiny. Switch to the other corner and suddenly you’re a giant.

Immersive Seattle

The Museum of Illusions is the latest in a series of Instagram-ready immersive exhibits to hit Seattle. (Van Gogh, Dinos Alive, and Wndr Museum are a few that have come and gone.) The first Museum of Illusions opened in Croatia in 2015. There are now more than 45 locations around the world.

The hands-on museum is designed to challenge perceptions—and also to make pretty pictures, which is right up our alley.

Many of the illusions rely on being viewed in camera (or on a phone) to work. There’s a blue dot on the ground showing where to stand for the best view.

Helpful staff members are stationed throughout the exhibit, and they’re happy to take photos for you. They’re also endlessly wiping down the surfaces—so many fingerprints.

Museum of Illusions Seattle

Decapitated head illusion. Photo by JiaYing Grygiel

Touch away!

The exhibit is fun for all ages, and you should plan on spending an hour inside. Little kids will need a boost to see inside the kaleidoscope. They’ll probably breeze by the exhibits on the walls in favor of the more interactive ones, which is fine because there’s so much to do. This is the museum where you won’t have to say, “Don’t touch!”

The exhibit’s exit dumps you in the gift shop, of course. This gift shop has lots of puzzles you can try, however, so it feels more like an extension of the show and not a purely capitalist scheme.

Restrooms and drinking fountains are at the entrance of the museum. Free lockers are also available. Food and drinks aren’t allowed inside.

We are thrilled to have a new attraction to draw people to downtown Seattle, a neighborhood still trying to pick itself up after you-know-what. It’s easy to make a day of it. After visiting the Museum of Illusions, we wandered down to Tiger Sugar for bubble tea, then ended the day by catching the sunset on an Argosy Cruises boat ride.

Museum of Illusions Seattle

Scaling a wall illusion. Photo by JiaYing Grygiel

If you go

Location: The Museum of Illusions is at 1330 5th Avenue, Seattle. The entrance is on the corner of 5th Avenue and Union Street.

Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m., and Friday to Saturday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m.

Admission: Like most things in Seattle, tickets aren’t cheap. Pre-purchasing tickets online in advance gets you a $2 discount: $32 for adults; $29 for seniors and military members; $27 for children 5-12. Teachers with identification and kids ages 4 and under are free.

Getting there: Parking is tough downtown, garages are expensive, and street parking is hard to find. Consider using public transit to get here. Light Rail drops you off two blocks away at Westlake Station.

Museum of illusion Seattle

Shadows in a room with red, blue and green lights at Museum of Illusions. Photo by JiaYing Grygiel

Read more:

July 4th fun around the greater Seattle area

66 Days of Summer: Head to the park!

Dad Next Door: What ever happened to summer?

About the Author

JiaYing Grygiel

JiaYing Grygiel is a photographer and writer in Seattle. Find her on Instagram @photoj.seattle and at