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New Museum of Illusions at Union Station uses mirrors to mess with your mind

Make yourself gigantic, tiny or dizzy at Museum of Illusions at Union Station

A new and permanent attraction at Union Station called Museum of Illusions messes with visitors’ minds through visual and sensory perceptions. Visitors can learn how and why the mind is tricked in an illusion.
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A new and permanent attraction at Union Station called Museum of Illusions messes with visitors’ minds through visual and sensory perceptions. Visitors can learn how and why the mind is tricked in an illusion.

The whole point of a new attraction at Union Station is to mess with your mind.

A Museum of Illusions, a permanent installation opening Friday, plays with visual and sensory perceptions. You see things that aren’t there. You don’t see things that are there. Objects appear to be flat until they suddenly reveal themselves to be dimensional.

You can be a giant or a tiny person standing in a corner or on a chair. Your head can appear, minus your body, in the middle of a platter of fruit on a table.

There will be a lot of selfies taken at the the Museum of Illusions, and that’s encouraged. The point is to have fun, but at the same time learn a little about how the mind plays tricks on us.

To that extent, Union Station Chief Marketing Officer Michael Tritt said the Museum of Illusions complements Science City.

“There’s a lot of science behind it,” he said. “Yes, they are illusions but the science that allows the brain to be tricked is equally impressive. ... We want to tweak your curiosity, and if we can do that and you go home with an appetite to learn more and figure out more, then we’ve done our job. And the overlay is to first and foremost have fun. If you’re not having fun it makes it like a bad day at school.”

A lot of the illusions are created with mirrors — 17 of them — but knowing that doesn’t make the experience any less freaky. An octagonal “infinity room” takes the carnival hall of mirrors effect to new dimensions.

The illusions are intended to amuse all ages. There are stepping stools for young children. There are also puzzle stations for children and adults.

Museum Director Alex Doroskovs and Operations Director Shane Sachs have spent the last 14 months creating the Museum of Illusions, which features more than 70 exhibits. It occupies an underused space on Union Station’s lower level, next to the popular Escape Room, which Doroskovs also created.

The illusions museum is part of a franchise that began in Europe. The only other Museum of Illusions in the U.S. is in New York and, at about 2,700 square feet, this one is bigger. Per franchise agreement, there won’t be another Museum of Illusions within 350 miles of Kansas City.

And the Kansas City Museum of Illusions has something the New York one doesn’t: a vortex tunnel. It looks like a stable walkway through a tunnel until psychedelic lights come on and the walkway appears to rotate, causing even the most sure-footed visitor to grab onto a railing.

Tickets to the Museum of Illusions are $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 6-13 and $12 for seniors. Union Station members get a 10 percent discount. A family of four pass is $40. Tickets can be purchased online at kansascity@museumofillusions.us

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