Chicago’s WNDR Museum ($30 admission, wndrmuseum.com) is pronounced either “wander” or “wonder.” You choose—the double meaning is intentional to represent both modes of joy. The “exhibits” within are boldly designed spaces that visitors use for dramatic, ready-made photo backdrops. They lean toward mind-bending, multisensory displays of art technology, like both Visual Feeder’s Human Hues and Midwest Immersive’s Lumens, which turn visitors’ movements into lights and sounds. One installation prompts you to hum along to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” knowing that hundreds of people around the world are also listening to the song right then (so the exhibit says).
WNDR began as a pop-up and went viral on social media, then transitioned to a permanent attraction just west of downtown in December 2020—just in time to close down for the pandemic. Last month, it reopened with 20 new exhibits—and a second wave of Instagram and TikTok inspiration. Selfies are encouraged. “It’s not you just looking at the painting. You are a part of these works,” says spokesperson Nora Daley. “It’s fun, it’s playful. It should be a joyful experience.”
Though WNDR is the Midwest’s most elaborate “selfie museum,” a new breed of hashtaggable attraction that plays upon the artistic side of the snapshot, it’s not the only one. Most don’t have WNDR’s high production value or artistic cred, instead offering colorful, playful mini-sets for vogueing. You might sit in a clawfoot tub full of silk flowers, pose with a collection of mismatched telephones, or work your angles in a corner wallpapered with punk-rock posters. Selfie connoisseurs have about an hour to take pics in the various galleries.
Here’s where to head with a fully charged battery—and perhaps a change of costume.
The Pose Experience
With 14 rooms available, The Pose Experience is VSCO to the max, featuring bright, popping colors with hypnotically creative backgrounds, from doughnuts to a bathtub overflowing with roses. $28 admission, $250 for an hourlong private photo shoot, theposeexperience.com
Modern modeling goes crazy at these 28 on-trend and fashionable backdrops. The most popular is a newly opened Friends-themed room, followed closely by their mirror-lined Infinity Room. $22 adult admission, $15 child admission (13 and under), selfiewrlddsm.com
If bubblegum-chic is your favorite aesthetic, The Influence is your go-to place, with 14 rooms filled with bright walls and neon signs. $23.50 for all-day admission, theinfluence-selfiemuseum.com
The Selfie Scene
Nashville and Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Each location offers 16 rooms of clean-cut whimsy. The Silver Room shimmers with streamers, disco balls, and a throne. $25 adult admission, $12.50 child admission (10 and under), selfiescenenash.com
The Selfie Room
Dress to pose on a tire swing with a backdrop of floral garlands. On March 28, you can say cheese with bunny rabbits for an Eastergram. $30 weekend and $20 weekday adult admission, $20 child admission (12 and under), theselfieroom.com