Would you like to grow and shrink as you walk through a room from one side to the other?
How about feeling as if you are moving through a moving tunnel?
Or maybe you’d just like to put someone’s head on a platter. All of this can be done at the new Museum of Illusions Washington, which will open at 925 H St., at CityCenterDC at the end of November.
There are more than 80 visual and educational exhibits featuring holograms, stereograms and immersive rooms that are designed to tease the senses and trick the mind. “We want people to be surprised when they walk through the door,” says Ghida Damirji, owner and operator of the Museum of Illusions Washington.
“What we wanted to do was take the opportunity to really use the fact that we are in D.C., so some of the exhibits have been adapted to highlight the historical significance of where we are.”
For instance, walking in, guests will see a modern portrait of George Washington with his eyes appearing to move and follow people as they walk—though it’s just an illusion. “There’s nothing mechanical about any of these exhibits,” Damirji says. “We have managed to bring in a little bit of magic, a little bit of science and something very interactive.”
One exhibit is an infinity room filled with mirrors, where it seems like there is an infinite amount of someone, which plays a trick on the mind, and the feeling of being in D.C. is again represented by the ceiling decorated with the stars and stripes of the American Flag.
“We also have a wonderful exhibit called the Vortex Tunnel where you feel like you’re moving and spinning, but you’re really just walking through something stationary and the illusion just makes you feel that way,” Damirji says.
There are Museum of Illusions franchises throughout the world, with the first one originating in Croatia. “The concept came to my desk a few years ago, when it was growing from Europe to the Middle East to Canada, and finally to the U.S.,” Damirji says. “I thought this would be a really good concept to bring to the District because we’re all moving towards more experiences.” Plus, with D.C. being a landmark for museums, culture and history, she felt it would be a venue that combines all of this and adds in a lot of fun, connecting education and entertainment to form an “edu-tainment” experience.
“The reasons I love this is it’s interactive, it really speaks to our social media generation to have an experience and post about it, and it’s science based,” Damirji says. “When you look at illusions, it’s where magic meets science. Illusions challenge us to see things differently and they reveal a lot about how our brain interprets reality.” The Museum was supposed to open a couple of years ago, but when COVID hit, the project was delayed, but now it’s ready to open its doors and invite guests in to experience something different and wonderful.
“We are in CityCenterDC, surrounded by amazing shops and restaurants, accessible by Metro, so the saying that ‘good things come to those who wait’ and we believe this is going to be a great thing for D.C.,”
Damirji says. “We say this is for people of all ages, from 3 to 103, because everyone will experience it from their own lens. Some like the science angle, some the magic and some the education aspect.”