Well, you won’t believe your eyes. Or rather, you will believe your eyes, but you really shouldn’t. The Museum of Illusions lives up to its name with a small collection of installations designed to deceive, astound, and bring a bemused smile to your face.
- Great for amusing photos
- Obviously excellent for kids
- Tickets* €13 for an adult at the time of writing
- Very central location
- See also: What to do with kids
Appearances can be deceptive
(Press photo © Museum of Illusions)
Given events across 2020/2021, I entered the Museum of Illusions filled with new-found cynicism paired with my usual dose of grumpiness. All the more pleasing then to report that the experience put a smile of wonder back on my face.
Consider the “museum” a place of amusement and bemusement.
The fun comes mainly from the larger installations.
Some play with your senses, such as a solid, fixed gangway inside a rotating light display that has you clinging to the rails entirely unnecessarily.
Others play with perspective. One room makes you look twice as big as your companion. Another has you climbing a vertical wall. In one corner table, your head appears to be served on a plate. As such, this is heaven for instagrammable photos.
The bemusement (also laced with fun) comes mainly from smaller installations and posters. The kind where your eyes and brain combine to create images and interpretations that simply do not exist.
Some will stay with me a long time.
Like the printed poster where a grey face appears to slowly disappear before your eyes. What? How?
Or the rotating half sphere that’s not rotating at all. But it is! (No, it isn’t.) All a trick of the light and the eyes. It’s like being on the front row of a magic show; you find yourself regularly furrowing your brow and going, “what the…?”
The museum is quite small; we were in and out in just 35 minutes, though you could stay longer to do all the little wooden and other puzzles that also dot the inside. But we thought it worth every cent. (And my partner would happily have paid double to see my head served up to her on that plate).
Tickets & visitor tips
At the time of writing, a standard ticket* to the Museum of Illusions costs €13 for an adult and €9 for kids. The installations and illusions comes with a small information display in English, German, Italian and Spanish that typically includes an explanation of the deception.
A few tips:
- Some of the larger illusions need two people in them to function, which makes taking a photo tricky if no third person is available. (Though a friendly member of staff stepped in each time we got near such an attraction to take a photo for us.)
- Talking photos: blue spots on the ground indicate the ideal points to stand and click for the best illusory outcome on your phone or camera. Use them.
- Definitely a place to get to outside of peak times, so you don’t have to wait for the photo opportunities.
- If you enjoy the puzzles, note that the small shop has quite a few to buy.
- Pause a moment to consider the surrounds. You’re actually in part of a wider palais that dates back to the late 17th century and belonged to the Esterházy family. The likes of Haydn may have performed within, since the Esterházys were great sponsors of music.
How to get to the museum
The Museum of Illusions sits in Vienna’s old town within walking distance of many central landmarks.
The other end emerges at Café Central, where we had a remarkably good breakfast before our visit. (Reserve a table, though, as queues are common.)
Subway: Herrengasse station (on the U3 line) practically counts as a neighbour.
Tram/bus: Trams don’t traverse the old town, but the first district buses stop nearby. For example, take the 1A or 2A to Herrengasse.
Address: Wallnerstraße 4, 1010 Vienna | Website