The High-Minded Selfie Museum Just An Afternoon’s Drive Away

Photo courtesy Ella Tobias

Some museums have banned the 21st-century norm of selfie-taking at their exhibits, viewing it as a superficial approach to engaging with art. But others encourage it, attracting Instagram-inclined visitors to their picturesque space. In the Midwest, the best one hands-down is WNDR Museum ($30 timed admission, 1130 W. Monroe St., It’s more comparable to an adult playground than the Louvre with its lively, interactive, technology-focused exhibits that insert you right into the art.

Pop-up selfie museums have flooded social media timelines for several years and have proven popular enough to become permanent attractions with static backdrops like flower-filled clawfoot tubs. WNDR takes the concept much further with multisensory, cutting-edge installations that are just as enjoyable IRL, if selfies aren’t your thing.

A linear path guides you through the 20 exhibits, which opened early this year after WNDR’s smash hit as a pop-up. Touch is mostly off-limits due to COVID-19, but other senses are employed at full force. One installation prompts you to text a word to see the hues of your message animated across a row of large rectangular screens. In another, raise and lower your hands to shift the sounds and lights around you in a room covered top to bottom with thrifted CDs that reflect the colors. A light-up dance floor generates vibrant swirls of illuminations beneath your feet as you move to the music. The most popular exhibit, Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Room, gives you only one minute (upon the artist’s request) to take in hundreds of stainless-steel spheres that appear to reflect endlessly.

Yes, take photos. But don’t let the virtual world pull you away from the captivating surroundings—you can’t go back for a second look during the hour you have to wander. Or is it pronounced wonder? You choose.