Chicago’s Latest Addition to the Pop-Up Museum Craze Combines Yayoi Kusama and an Appropriated Richard Prince

Kusama's Infinity Room is a top attraction at the wndr museum, a new pop-up museum that looks to blend art and science.

Yayoi Kusama, INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM: LET'S SURVIVE FOREVER (2017) at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.
Yayoi Kusama, INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM: LET'S SURVIVE FOREVER (2017) at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

After a few hiccups, Chicago’s wndr museum, the latest entry into the fast-growing field of pop-up museums, has opened its doors to smartphone-wielding guests with the Windy City’s first Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room in tow. The science-infused attraction has a full 19 installations, all designed to evoke a sense of wonder as guests wander (the vowel-less name could suggests both words, although it is pronounced “wonder”).

And lest you complain that these experiential photo ops are starting to rip off one another’s brightly colored, adult playground attractions, the wndr museum is boldly claiming the high ground, embracing the concept of “appropriation” by looking to famed artist Richard Prince. In fact, one room features one of Prince’s controversial Instagram works—canvasses featuring large-format images sourced without permission from popular accounts—overlaid with the museum’s own addition, a neon sign that reads “We Are All Artists.”

The Chicago museum was originally set to open in August, but was delayed following the VIP preview, when a leak was discovered in the roof while organizers were hanging a kinetic sculpture. The construction issue also led to several content adjustments. The problematic sculpture is out, as well as one of the two co-founders, Toronto food scientist Irwin Adam Eydelnant.

His company Future Food Studio had originally contributed a scent-themed installation of “edible clouds,” which is conspicuously missing from the museum’s final version. Now, reports the Chicago Tribune, tech millionaire Brad Keywell, co-founder of Groupon, is being billed as wndr’s sole creator.

It’s the third pop-up museum to hit Chicago, after something originally from LA called the Happy Place dreamed up by music manager Jared Paul and a Midwest iteration of Refinery29’s popular 29Rooms. (Both were temporary; the wndr museum has an open-ended run.) Thanks to a private collector, however, wndr alone can boast Kusama’s INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM: LET’S SURVIVE FOREVER, a mirrored chamber full of reflective steel orbs and an even smaller Infinity Room peep hole.

The wndr museum puts their own neon twist on a Richard Prince Instagram work. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

The wndr museum puts their own neon twist on a Richard Prince Instagram work. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

The work drew 75,000 guests when it was first shown—for free—at New York’s David Zwirner Gallery last fall. Tickets to the wndr museum cost $32, reflecting the growing trend of pop-up museums that are more expensive than world-class art institutions.

A wndr ticket may cost you more than the price of admission to New York’s Museum of Modern Art, but does MoMA have a Prism Room, with walls covered in iridescent glass refracting rainbow light everywhere? Or a DNA Cave, with a massive illuminated helix you pose with? The wndr museum has even taken the ball pit, an essential element of any pop-up museum, to the next level with an “anti-gravity chamber.”

See more photos of the wndr museum below.

The optical illusion-based Ames Room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

The optical illusion-based Ames Room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

The Microscope Hall at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

The Microscope Hall at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

Yayoi Kusama, <em>INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM: LET'S SURVIVE FOREVER</em> (2017) at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

Yayoi Kusama, INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM: LET’S SURVIVE FOREVER (2017) at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

The optical illusion-based Ames Room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

The optical illusion-based Ames Room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

A room at the wndr museum. Photo courtesy of the wndr museum.

The wndr museum is opened at 1130 West Monroe Street, Chicago, September 21, 2018, and is on view indefinitely. Tickets are $32.


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