Dec 9, 2022 - Culture

5 takeaways from my visit to Charlotte’s Museum of Illusions

Museum of illusions

Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios

Charlotte’s Museum of Illusions is now open in Uptown.

The international museum franchise, with over 30 locations across the world, brings more than 60 interactive exhibits to Charlotte, Axios’ McKenzie Rankin wrote ahead of opening weekend.  

Why it matters: It’s the first new museum to open in Charlotte in more than 10 years. And it’s here to stay, securing a 10-year lease in Uptown’s Ally Charlotte Center.

Details: The museum is located at 601 S. Tryon St., but the entrance is on Good Samaritan Way.

  • It’s open daily, with time slots starting at 10am.
  • Tickets are $20 for children, $24 for adults and $22 for seniors.

My thought bubble: I went with a friend on a rainy evening. Neither of us are huge museum buffs, and we didn’t really know what to expect, but it’s not your typical museum; rather than portraits and landscapes on the walls, the space is filled with holograms, optical illusions and unusual rooms.

  • The exhibit is fun for people of all ages. I imagine each visit will be unique depending on who you go with. It’s a perfect activity for a rainy day, or with an out-of-town guest.

Here are five takeaways from my visit:

(1) Give yourself 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to enjoy the museum.

Walking through the 6,300-square-foot space takes about 45 minutes, and you will spend more time in front of some exhibits than others. You might get stuck waiting for a photo-op behind groups of people, but there are several interactions to keep you busy while you wait. Plus, the museum employees do a really good job of ushering people along while not rushing you.

Museum of illusions
You gotta let yourself be a little goofy throughout the whole experience. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

(2) Be prepared to pay to park.

The museum doesn’t have designated parking but you can use Ally’s parking deck, street parking, or take the light rail.

Of note: Ally’s parking deck is $9.99 for the first hour. 

(3) You don’t need to be super creative, someone will help you. 

I recommend you bring a friend or two (preferably with photo-taking skills) because this is, at the end of the day, a highly Instagrammable experience.

How it works: Each exhibit has recommended photo spots designated on the floor. Meaning, you’ll know where to stand to get the perfect photo. If you get confused, the museum ushers will help guide you, give you ideas and even take some photos for you.

Pro tip: Look through the museum’s Instagram or hashtags for creative photo ideas (here’s a visual summary of our experience).

  • And remember to charge your phone before you go.
Museum of illusions
You can see on the ground a designated photo spot. The person taking the photo is also standing on another marker so the deconstructed chair in the room looks like a large chair. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

(4) Wear the right attire.

A few of these exhibits require you to crawl on the floor. One of them will have you ducking into a tight space to come out as a floating head on the other end.

The bottom line: Some things you just gotta do for the gram, including laying on the ground so you can pretend like you’re falling off a building.

  • Leave the dresses and skirts behind so you can do a full range of poses without worrying about flashing everyone.
Museum of illusions
I laid down on the floor to get this epic pic. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

(5) It’s worth revisiting. 

I can guarantee as soon as you get home you’ll get more inspiration for photo opportunities (avoid a facepalm moment with the pro tip in #3).

Bonus: On the night we went, we were lucky enough to witness the museum’s “chief illusionist” Caleb Morgan, who walked around the space ala David Blane on the Las Vegas strip, showing groups of people magic tricks that were almost more impressive than the exhibits themselves.

  • A representative from the museum tells me that the museum is “developing a program with different educational and entertaining events and will be posted on their social platforms monthly.”
  • The representative also said, “the museum will do a refreshment each year and is constantly working to bring new exhibits to Charlotte.”
Museum of illusions
This photo was actually taken right-side-up and then edited to be upside down. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios
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