Seattle’s new WNDR Museum offers a playful, interactive art experience

by Keridwyn Deller

The newly arrived WNDR Museum is a fun, unique, interactive experience here in Seattle, offering a delightful array of interactive art installations.

The AI-created artwork (you give it a word or sentence prompt and it creates a variety of visual digital art) was particularly fun and unique (with one of our group’s prompts creating a series of artwork that still has me laughing out loud when I think of it).  

One of the interactive installations that I was most looking forward to visually lived up to my expectations, but unfortunately was placed in the first walkway that all museum attendees had to go through to enter the main space, which kept me from taking my time settling into the experience and really playing with it, but besides that, I was delighted to find that as visitors, we could roam through the rest of the space at our own pace and take all the time we needed in each area.

My advice to you is to give yourself enough time to really relax in the room where you can sit or lay and be surrounded by projections on all the walls around you. I particularly loved the moments of that experience that included golden glowing lights and a sort of mystical white cosmic waterfall. I remember thinking how nice it would be to get a chance to come back to this space on my own to be with my thoughts and enjoy the full rotation of the artwork in that room.

Tickets and more info here.

I was delighted to find the museum has a Yayoi Kusama pumpkin in it, though that area felt a bit more like what you would expect to find in a non-immersive museum. I hope that at some point they expand that area to include a Kusama-inspired immersive element to play in – I could see Kusama’s polka dot work being a great springboard to inspire someone to blend technology and art for a more immersive experience there. I also could understand if there are a lot of limitations put on the museum as to how they can display this art piece. It’s nice to see her work honored as her “Infinity Room Mirrors” (which toured to Seattle Art Museum a few years back – such a delight!) has clearly inspired immersive artists around the world.

One of my favorite pieces in the museum right now is the bright and cheerful “You Can Do Most Anything” by Andy Arkley. When I think of “wonder” I think of cheerful, inquisitive delight and this installation captures all of that for me. I can’t help but get a big smile on my face when I think of standing (and dancing!) in front of that artwork as a friend experimented with the 16-button panel to create a pleasurable cacophony of light, movement, and sound.

While it left me wanting more (the museum had fewer artwork pieces than I had expected), I thoroughly enjoyed sharing laughs with friends as we experienced the works together. 

In addition to their regular hours, WNDR Museum in Seattle offers a monthly “WNDR After Dark” event on the third Thursday of the month (the next one is this week on May 18, 2023 from 6:30 – 10:30 pm). Tickets and more info here.

WNDR Museum (with different artwork installations) can also be found in Chicago, Boston, and San Diego. If future travels bring me to any of those cities, I’ll be sure to check them out too.

(Side note: Props to the curator of the items sold in the WNDR Seattle gift shop! We picked up some super fun items and I may pop in there again for gift inspiration in the coming months.)

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