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Interactive Museums NYC: Fun Museums, Pop Up Exhibits, and Other Instagram-Worthy Moments

Immersive experiences are waiting for you in NYC.

Instagrammable moments, or should we say “immersive experiences” at interactive museums in NYC, are taking over the Big Apple. Whether located in a pop-up space, museum, or major retail store, these photo ops are awfully pretty and fabulous fun to visit. There’s the selfie-friendly Color Factory, cutting-edge art spot ARTECHOUSE, and offbeat picks like Stranger Things: The Experience. Each of these cool museums and experiences will make great fodder for your Insta feed, only in the endlessly photographable New York City.

The 11 Best Interactive Museums in NYC

1. RiseNY

riseny talk show

Part ride. Part museum. All New York. Soar over the city at RiseNY, a three-part, one-of-a-kind experience new to Manhattan. Step back in time to 1904 as you visit NYC’s very first subway station at City Hall and watch an immersive film by documentarian Ric Burns, voiced by actor Jeff Goldblum, which showcases how NYC became the crossroads of the world. From there you can journey through seven exhibits including Fashion, Music, Movies, and more. After excellent photo ops, you'll take flight on a first-ever soaring ride and experience the sights, sounds, and smells of Big Apple icons. 160 W. 45th St., 601-228-2201, riseny.co

2. The Museum of Ice Cream

museum of ice cream subway

Among the first of its kind, The Museum of Ice Cream enjoyed a sweet stint in Manhattan beginning in 2016. Now it’s back at a permanent location with even more space to play in. Check out the three-story slide that ends in a pool of sprinkles, and walk through a hall of ice cream scoops. There's also branded ice cream to taste and very cute MOIC merch to take home. 558 Broadway, museumoficecream.com@museumoficecream

3. ARTECHOUSE

artechouse life of a neuron

Head to the historic boiler room of Chelsea Market to experience the immersive art space ARTECHOUSE. You’ve never seen art like this before, as room-sized digital projections merge with sound design to create a cinematic experience. Opening this Saturday, May 14th,  is Life of a Neuron, which draws on decades of neuroscience research to create a cellular-level journey through the human brain. Come explore the intersections of art and science and discover new layers of a universal human experience—the story of ourselves. The main installation is joined by additional immersive artworks. You can also grab a drink at the newly opened XR Bar. 439 W. 15th St., #artechouseNYC, @artechouse, artechouse.com

4. Color Factory

color factory soho

Color Factory, a massive interactive art space, began in August 2017 in San Francisco. Wildly popular, the project has set up shop in Soho as of last summer. Designed by a wide spectrum of artists, Color Factory walks visitors through 16 rooms devoted to the wonder of color. You’re invited to compliment someone using color words, discover your signature color, and read wishes for the world written by NYC school children on varicolored balloons. Each room is equipped with a camera that can take a picture of you and send it to your phone: the better to post with! 251 Spring St., [email protected], colorfactory.co, @colorfactoryco

5. Museum of Illusions

Museum of Illusions

The Museum of Illusions NYC is great photographic fun, as you'll be able to laugh, scream, run, take selfies, and generally do the kinds of things they don't allow in other museums. You (or your prankster friend) can even become a head on a platter. There’s also an Anti-Gravity Room, an Infinity Room (a hall of mirrors for the 21st century), and a room where you’ll walk on walls. Nothing is as it seems; it’s all illusion, and all incredible! 77 Eighth Ave., 212-645-3230, newyork.museumofillusions.us, @moi_newyork

6. Arcadia Earth

arcadia earth nyc

Arcadia Earth in NoHo is a one-hour immersive exhibit created by an artist collective. Augmented reality messages, virtual reality animations, and interactive environments will teleport you into a journey through the planet. For every ticket sold, Arcadia Earth will plant one tree and donate to charity partner Oceanic Global. New to the museum is the world's first mixed-reality environmental art exhibit. Making use of Microsoft's augmented reality HoloLens, the new add-on lets you mix it up with interactive holograms. Get a new perspective on the planet while helping support environmental organizations. 718 Broadway, tickets.arcadia-earth.com/event/arcadia-eartharcadia.earth@arcadiaearth

7. Madame Tussauds New York

glow gala ariana grande

New York City is famous for its gala culture. For the first time ever, you can immerse yourself in the scene right in Times Square. The Madame Tussauds flagship holds 19 celebrities, including new and never-before-seen wax figures of Ariana Grande and P. Diddy, at the just-opened Glow Gala. Many of the figures, including RuPaul, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry, are wearing illuminated, show-stopping looks inspired by New York’s legendary Met Gala. The exhibition comes to life with state-of-the-art projection technology and dramatic lighting, choreographed to a New York City-centric soundtrack. Floral walls and neon art provide a perfect backdrop for photo ops. 234 W. 42nd St., nycwax.com

8. The Museum of Sex

SUPERFUNLAND: JOURNEY INTO THE EROTIC CARNIVAL

Museum of Sex's pop up exhibit Super Funland: Journey into the Erotic Carnival examines the sexual history of the carnival. An interactive exhibition of 13 erotically charged games and amusements allows visitors to lose themselves in the carnality, decadence, and joy of a reimagined carnival. You'll also pick up some history along the way, as the exhibit looks at the bacchanalian origins of the carnival in ancient Greece and Rome and its evolution in pre-industrial Europe and the “midway” of the great World’s Fairs of the 20th century. 233 Fifth Ave., 212-689-6337, museumofsex.com

9. Sloomoo Institute

sloomoo slime world

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Have "the slime of your life" at Sloomoo Institute, a new pop up sensory playground. Activate your senses of touch, sound, and scent through endless vats of slime waiting to be played with. There's also a an immersive ASMR tunnel. a glow-in-the-dark cove, an EEG machine to show your brain “on slime,” and a 150-foot long DIY bar where you can design your dream slime. 475 Broadway, sloomooinstitute.com

10. SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

summit one vanderbilt

Blending elements of art, technology, architecture, and thrill, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt takes the concept of an “observation deck” to entirely new heights through its three levels of multi-sensory experiences. Look for immersive art installations on top of stunning midtown views, both day or night. 45 E. 42nd St., 877-682-1401, summitov.com

11. IAM Inverted Art Museum—Coming September 1st, 2022

upside down museum nyc

See the city from entirely new perspectives. Starting this September, the IAM Inverted Art Museum will let you explore room after room presenting the different personalities of the urban landscape, from the gritty to the luxurious, uptown trains to the empty apartments of Billionaires' Row. New York artists like KAWS will be prominently displayed as will NYC highlights like an IAM Statue of Liberty, an authentic New York antique shop, a diorama inspired by Stan Lee, a Plasma Room inspired by Nikola Tesla, and a LEGO bathroom. Advance tickets at 40% off (with other perks) are now available419 Broome St., invertedartmuseum.us

7 Fun, Interactive Pop Up Museums in NYC

1. Candytopia

candytopia 2022

If you’ve ever wanted a tour of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, you’ll get a taste at Candytopia (without the imminent peril). Dive into a ball pit of marshmallows, view portraits made of candy, and take pics with candy-striped backgrounds and a life-sized emoji. Candytopia is conveniently located near Herald Square, Penn Station, and the Macy’s flagship store. Through July 31st, 2022. 111 W. 32nd St., candytopia.com@thecandytopia

2. Stranger Things: The Experience

stranger things immersive brooklyn

Ever wanted to be the protagonist of a Stranger Things adventure? Stranger Things: The Experience, open now in Brooklyn, throws you headfirst into your favorite show—join Eleven, Dustin, Mike, Lucas, Max, and Will for a very special episode starring…you! Venture inside Hawkins Lab for a 1-hour immersive experience featuring a brand-new Stranger Things storyline, then explore an ’80s-themed Mix-Tape medley with food and drinks, special merch, photo ops, and more.

3. The Friends Experience

the friends experience new york

Step inside the world of Friends! With two floors of immersive experiences, The Friends Experience is the ultimate outing for fans of the beloved TV series. Pose on the iconic orange couch, sit at Monica and Rachel’s kitchen table, kick back and relax in Joey and Chandler’s comfy chairs, and so much more. At this flagship NYC location fans can also buy coffee and pastries at the grab & go cafe in Central Perk. 130 E. 23rd St., friendstheexperience.com

4. Cricket’s Candy Creations

choc chamber kids cricket's

Cricket's Candy Creations is a Hudson Square pop-up that lets kids get messy with their favorite medium: candy. There's a Candy Kitchen with Silly Sushi and Bogus Burgers, a place to make a Tasty Trinket, edible slime (it comes in three flavors, Birthday Cake, Gummy Bear, and Candy Slime), a Chocolate Chamber, Lollipop Lounge, and much more. 200 Hudson St., cricketscandy.com

5. CAMP x Disney's "Mickey & Friends: An Extra Big Adventure”

camp fifth avenue flagship

A new interactive retail experience is coming to the flagship CAMP store on Fifth Avenue. Disney fans will not want to miss CAMP x Disney's "Mickey & Friends: An Extra Big Adventure.” Behind CAMP’s signature Magic Door is an immersive experience where families are guided by a CAMP Counselor through a narrative-driven adventure, packed Disney and CAMP magic. Guests climb, slide, bounce, and dance their way through a themed environment. Expect plenty of photo ops along the way. Tickets are $24 each. 110 Fifth Ave., 917-997-0439, camp.com

6. Star Wars Exhibition

fans strike back star wars exhibit

Photo credit: EMS Entertainment.

New exhibition The Fans Strike Back: The Largest Star Wars Fan Exhibition reflects four decades of devoted fandom. Get immersed in the saga as never before with the largest private collection of official Star Wars items, including life-size figures, models, one-of-a-kind sculptures, figurines, photos, posters, and costumes. There are more than 600 collectable items in all. The show runs through September 4th, 2022. 526 Sixth Ave., @thefansstrikebackthefansstrikebackexhibition.com

7. Gold in Motion—Coming September 14th, 2022

gold in motion hall des lumieres

The inaugural Hall des Lumières’ exhibition “Gustav Klimt: Gold in Motion” is a multi-sensory celebration of Klimt’s most iconic work. Using unique, cutting-edge mapping technology, original soundtrack, and a historic location, let yourself be transported to a world of color in the Financial District. 49 Chambers St., halldeslumieres.com

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About the Author

Merrill Lee Girardeau lives and writes in Brooklyn.

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