After a few hiccups, Chicago’s wndr museum, the latest entry into the ever-crowded 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 wndr museum has a full 19 installations designed to evoke a sense of wonder as guests wander through (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 one another off, the endless line of ball pits running together in your social media feeds, the wndr museum is boldly claiming the higher ground by taking a page out of the book of the famed appropriation artist Richard Prince: One room features one of his controversial Instagram works—sourced without permission from popular accounts—overlaid with a neon sign that reads “We Are All Artists.” (Their ball pit is also not a stale, normal ball pit, but a .)
The 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 cofounders, 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 , tech millionaire Brad Keywell, cofounder of Groupon, is being billed as wndr’s sole creator.
It’s the third pop-up museum to hit Chicago, after something called the Happy Place from 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 , a mirrored chamber full of reflective steel orbs and an even smaller Infinity Room peep hole.
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.
Indeed, a wndr ticket will 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? Surely, photographs with such like-inducing delights are well worth the price of admission. That’s what the growing crop of pop-up museums are counting on, at least.
See more photos of the wndr museum below.