At the end of last year, we visited the Museum of Illusions in Charlotte, and I’ve been meaning to share about it!
The Museum of Illusions in Charlotte is a super-cool new spot in Uptown, where you can immerse yourself in intriguing visual, sensory and educational experiences. We visited the museum in late December, and it’s worthy of a write-up on A Lady Goes West.
Dave bought me the tickets as part of my birthday present. And I was definitely skeptical of the experience, but I ended up having a great time and was pleasantly surprised.
For a look at the museum in video, check out this reel I posted.
Now, let’s get to the review …
Review of the Museum of Illusions in Charlotte
Background on the Museum of Illusions
Launched in Croatia in 2015, the Museum of Illusions currently has about 30 locations over the world in major cities. And the Charlotte location just opened in December of 2022. (Upon research, I found out this is the first new museum in Charlotte in more than 10 years, so it was much needed!)
This museum is part entertainment, part education, and it’s good for the whole family. We took Brady (our 5-year-old son), and he had a blast.
The museum features artwork that makes your eyes do funny things, as well as rooms with cool wall art and set-ups. And when you take pictures, things are not what they seem in person. Basically, everything is an illusion.
The entire museum experience took us just under an hour, and we felt like we saw and did it all. The museum FAQs say that’s a standard time frame, with most people taking 45 minutes to 60 minutes to see and do everything. So it’s not huge, and it’s certainly not an all-day affair.
In Charlotte, the Museum of Illusions is located in Uptown (which in Charlotte, is actually downtown) in a small building on 601 S. Tryon Street. The hallways are small, the museum is small, and the rooms are small. But, even though we were there when it was sold out, it didn’t seem unpleasantly crowded. And it didn’t make us feel claustrophobic either. It’s bright and light in most areas, and it’s well maintained too.
Upon arrival, while we were getting checked in, several parties walked in, but were turned away because the museum was sold out for the day. (This was the Monday after Christmas.) Therefore, I’d recommend buying your tickets online ahead of time, before you make the trip to Uptown.
The tickets are super reasonably priced too (prices later in the post). However, we parked in the parking garage directly next to the museum, and that was $18 for the afternoon. Had we spent more time looking for different parking, we would have saved some money. But, the garage where we parked did have a cool robot camera thing rolling around, and Brady loved that — so maybe it was worth the $18 to be in there?
What we loved about the Museum of Illusions in Charlotte
The people working there were incredibly helpful and not only managed the crowds, but also assisted us in understanding the illusions and taking our pictures. Yes, the tour is self guided, but there are still helpful people working there while you walk through.
And while one of the ladies at the front desk was a little short with people (especially when people came in from the street hoping to buy tickets), the actual museum tour guides or hosts, if you will, were awesome. They were so helpful. They offered to take photos. They directed you to the next illusion. During our experience, there was a family in front of us hogging all the cool stuff with zero regard for others. And I literally watched one of the museum hosts — in the most polite way — ask that family to give other patrons a chance to try things. That was so cool.
You never had to look too hard to find someone to take a picture for your group, because the people working there were so eager to assist. They even helped us to understand and appreciate the illusions. Love that.
The exhibits are so-very-photo-worthy, and you come away with a ton of cool pictures and videos with tricks of the eye. We came away with so many cool pictures and videos, and they were fun to make/take. It was really neat to look back at all of our footage, because so many of the illusions were just tricks of the eye. If you’re a content creator or if you like photos, this place is for you.
This would make an excellent place for a birthday party, corporate party, date night or even a field trip. Because the exhibits are meant to be interactive — you need to stand in certain spots to do certain things to actually experience the optical illusions — this could be a great spot to host an event. It’s social. It lets people do cool things together.
You can see and do everything in less than an hour. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend all day in a museum. Especially because we’re often doing everything with Brady in tow, and he can easily lose his interest. I loved that we felt like we could complete the experience and get our money’s worth in just under an hour. That felt totally doable to achieve. And I like to feel successful.
The price is right. Tickets are only $24 for adults and $20 for children between 5 and 12, and that’s super reasonable. (Kids under 5 are free.)
It’s good for the whole family. If Brady were a couple years younger, he may not have really gotten much out of the museum, but at five-years-old, it worked. You do have to be able to look at things for a minute and see what’s happening with your vision, so toddlers and younger kids may struggle. Brady especially liked the table of toys/gadgets in the back, which were out and open for museum guests to play with. These wooden games were also available for sale, and while they were hard to figure out, he enjoyed trying them.
What we didn’t love about the Museum of Illusions in Charlotte
Honestly, there wasn’t a ton not to like, if you ask me.
You do have to “work” to get the illusions though, and if that’s not your style, this place may not be for you. It’s not just about walking a gallery and enjoying artwork, you have to stand in certain spots and do certain things to “get it.” Also, it’s probably not a good spot to go alone either, because of the interactivity.
Yes, it was busy when we were there, but the front desk staggered entry times of groups, which was helpful.
And, yes, you do need to have a phone out to take pictures to see some of the illusions, but that’s cool with me.
Yes, you do need to reserve your tickets ahead of time, but I’m good with that too.
I think the only things I didn’t like were the parking fee we paid (not associated with the museum). And the fact that we sometimes had to wait a few minutes to try an illusion for ourselves if someone was ahead of us.
However, I don’t think we’d go back again, just because we saw it and did it all at one time. But I do think this would be a great place for a special event in the future. It’s short and sweet and entertaining, and it made for a great outing for us. (Upon further research, I found out that the museum may refresh the exhibits annually, so that would be more of a reason to return.)
As I said, there was really not much not to like. Although Dave did get nauseous with one of the walk-through vortex tunnels. So he skipped that one, while Brady and I went through it.
Tips for visiting the Museum of Illusions in Charlotte
- Park somewhere other than the garage next door. That garage is pricey.
- Leave your strollers and big bags at home. While there are free lockers for your coats and purses, you’ll have more fun walking around free and easy without any baggage.
- Buy your tickets ahead of time, because it does sell out. Tickets are very reasonably priced, and you can reserve online. The museum opens at 10 a.m. daily.
- Make a day out of it and grab a meal in Uptown before or after you walk the museum. You can’t bring any food or drinks into the museum, so ditch your coffee cup before you head in.
- Clear off your phone and wipe your camera lens, so you’re ready to grab a lot of content and photos.
I’m so glad that Charlotte has added this fun museum to the Uptown offerings. And I hope we keep getting more and more attractions like this in the future.
Have a wonderful day. And I’ll see you back on the blog later this week for some favorites and real talk.
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Questions of the day for YOU
Have you ever been to a Museum of Illusions?
When is the last time you visited a museum and which one was it?
How was your weekend?