A visually powerful pop-up in the West Loop redefines the modern museum with serious theatrics.
Anything and everything qualifies as shareworthy spectacle today, but even the most hashtag-hesitant can’t resist chronicling a visit to wndr museum, the eye-catching art and science showcase taking Chicago by storm. Though spotlighting the everyday, the preoccupations of the museum’s inaugural “edition,” themed Finite/Infinite, are anything but banal: drawing cues from Powers of Ten, a 1977 short film by Charles and Ray Eames contemplating the universe, the Brad Keywell-conceived concept spotlights “phenomena from the smallest particles—like neutrinos and cytoskeletons—to the infinite through immersive art experiences,” says wndr museum Executive Director Molly Vaile. “Each installation reflects a unique scientific phenomenon and its inherent beauty.”
Weighty stuff, sure, but your grade school field trip this isn’t: Absent are the markers of a conventional museum, subbed in for engaging, educational spaces (think: a zerogravity ball pit recalling the weightlessness of outer space) realized by a worldwide team of more than 30 collaborators. The flashiest, of course, is Yayoi Kusama’s awe-inducing installation, “Let’s Survive Forever,” the art world iconoclast’s first Infinity Mirrored Room to be showcased in Chicago—and an important one at that. Observes Vaile, “[It’s] said to be the culmination of her work, as it features an Infinity Mirrored Room within an Infinity Mirrored Room.”
With the kaleidoscopic reflection of dazzling mirrored stainless steel balls enveloping those who step inside, the space not only makes for a moving metaphor for the expanse of the universe, but provides prime Insta fodder, too—a secondary perk for an educational experience, to be sure, but a helpful one. Explains Vaile, “When visitors share their experiences on social media, they are inviting their networks to be curious about the world around them as well, wherever they may be. In that sense, social media is actually an integral part of wndr museum reaching its highest meaning.” 1130 W. Monroe St.