A little shy of a year ago, the Museum of Illusions (Austin branch) opened at The Domain. I had spoken with the Texas franchise owners before they had chosen a location in town to get more detailed information about their plans since it would be an excellent addition to the rather bleak museum landscape here. The Museum of Illusions concept was born in 2015 in Zagreb, Croatia, as the Muzej Iluzija. Since then, it has been franchised into over 40 cities worldwide, from Nairobi to New York, and Shanghai to New Delhi. It is still expanding with no plans on slowing down.

It’s easy to see why this franchise is such a sensation. Who doesn’t love magic tricks or illusions? Visual and spatial Installations, exhibits, interactive rooms, experiences, and images assault your senses and challenge your perception of space in 3D. The fact that you can walk over a bridge, holding on to the guardrail to balance what feels like you’re swirling in a tunnel in space, proves that simulations are thrilling and disorienting at once.

And mirrors. One exhibit had us lying flat on the floor with our arms outstretched, touching a bench. Mirrors above and behind us created a reflection as if we were upside down, holding our weight on our hands while doing a handstand. Another fun experience was standing atop a platform of an endless mirror of ladders (above and below) and then jumping midair. A tour guide from the museum took photos of people jumping and then turned the image upside down. Several images were not still, as expected from a museum of illusions.

A 3D wall model of what looked like entranceways moved from left to right as your eyes wandered, giving the impression that the art was moving. A collage of smaller colored images appeared like a random sampling of photographs until you stepped back a good ten feet, and viola! It was an image of Albert Einstein.

There was a fun little spot to crawl into and pop your head out of, although the climb was a bit uncomfortable as I was wearing wedges. Your head is then “served” on a platter. In yet another interactive exhibit of a subway car, you hold onto the rails inside the car and it appears like you’re floating.

The space was compact and didn’t feel overcrowded, although it was filled with people, families, and children. The entire experience took me approximately 45 minutes to go through. I could’ve stayed longer and next time I will stay longer, but had another appointment right after. Another cool thing is that you can rent the whole museum and also one room for catering. The room is equipped with a projector, tables, and chairs for a unique party or business gathering.

I wish it had lasted longer and there had been more exhibits. Perhaps in the future, they’ll expand.

By Elise Krentzel

Elise Krentzel is the author of the bestselling memoir Under My Skin - Drama, Trauma & Rock 'n' Roll, a ghostwriter, book coach to professionals who want to write their memoir, how-to or management book or fiction, and contributing author to several travel books and series. Elise has written about art, food, culture, music, and travel in magazines and blogs worldwide for most of her life, and was formerly the Tokyo Bureau Chief of Billboard Magazine. For 25 years, she lived overseas in five countries and now calls Austin, TX, her home. Find her at https://elisekrentzel.com, FB: @OfficiallyElise, Instagram: @elisekrentzel, LI: linkedin.com/in/elisekrentzel.