The shamans say that the entire world is an illusion, but before we get too metaphysical let’s take a look at one of Athens’ newest exhibition spaces, where you can test your ability to discern the real from the unreal and get a little dizzy in the process. The Museum of Illusions on the lower part of Ermou street is designed both to educate and entertain; it offers unique experiences that leave all its visitors, regardless of age, leaving the two-storey premises with a new sense of discovery and awe.
The Athens Museum of Illusions is only one of a global franchise that began in Zagreb in 2015 and was created by Croatian marketing entrepreneur Roko Zivkovic. New York, London, Toronto, Kuala Lumpur, Berlin, and Hamburg are just a few of the 15 cities worldwide that have so far embraced the highly popular set-up over the last three years.
From rooms with a raised floor in which the person standing in one corner looks like a giant and the one standing in the corner across looks like a dwarf, to stereograms (pictures that when you stare long enough into them, you’ll see another picture - these were especially popular in the psychedelics-friendly ‘70s) and a galactic tunnel with a bridge going through it, that when you enter it, spins around noisily making you feel that the bridge is swinging from side to side (having gone there with my five-year-old, I walked across the bridge eight times and literally needed to sit down after), there are endless images and installations to enjoy. Cognitive, physiological and literal illusions engage the mind and senses in a fun and refreshing way, offering a rewarding change of scene right in the heart of Athens.
The combination of magical tricks, science and art are very enticing and you would need to be in a very staid disposition indeed to not laugh or gasp with surprise at least once during your visit here. You’ll see holograms (some described by the museum as ‘horror-grams’), your head can be served up on a plate, you’ll observe peripheral drift illusion pictures, puzzle over the impossible trident, and my favourite, stare deep into the hypnotic wheel for 30 seconds, after which, when looking at your hand you will watch it expand.
Just for fun, you can also enjoy trying this one online.
The museum not only encourages visitors to snap away and take as many photos and videos as possible, but has even placed floor stickers showing prospective photographers the best spot to stand on in order to capture optical illusions from their most impressive angle.
Please note,the museum is a ideal place to take your kids to (ideally aged three and up) but as there are several exhibits that require time, effort and attention to understand or solve - such as logic puzzles, it’s advisable that you invite another adult with you so you can enjoy really immersing yourself in certain experiences without the constant distraction of “mummy, look at this!” echoing in the background. Although the museum has assistants in every area who are happy to snap pictures of you, having a friend along is a win-win for all as you can also double the fun of taking pictures together with your friend as well as your kids.
Tip: Make sure to get a kaleidoscope photo of your child or loved one - it can really make for the perfect original portrait!
Now, if I can only get down from the ceiling I can carry on with my life...
A: Ermou 119, Athina 105 55