WNDR Museum is Boston's newest arrival on the cultural/entertainment scene - an interactive, immersive experience based on digital art and technologies that put you at the center of the creative experience.

WNDR ("Wonder") is cool, thought-provoking, and lots of fun.  There's nothing else quite like it in Boston. 

"WNDR is an ever-evolving experience," according to Chris Freeman, President of WNDR.  "We will rotate some of the artwork over time as well as layering in pop-up exhibits, performances, and partnerships with Boston and New England community organizations and creatives."

What if you're not normally a fan of museums?  Don't let that stop you from visiting because because you won't find traditional art forms here.  What you will find here is a new type of multi-dimensional creativity where you become part of the process.

Interactive exhibition where your movements create the shapes on the wall
Interactive exhibition where your movements create and change the shapes on the wall

Above all, WNDR Museum is a sensory adventure.  You'll explore a series of rooms and spaces where color, sound, and movement - some of which you create - will surround you.  You're likely to leave with a smile on your face because there's a lot to love here.

In this article, we'll give you an idea of what to expect (plus a lot of photos), along with details about how to schedule a visit and get tickets, tips for getting the most out of your visit, and suggestions about what else to do nearby.

You'll find WNDR Museum next to Macy's in the heart of Downtown Crossing, just a block from Boston Common and other top attractions such as the Freedom Trail, the Theatre District, several popular coffee bars/cafes, and Chinatown's restaurants. 

Top Photo: WNDR Museum in Boston's Downtown Crossing neighborhood; photo credit: Boston Discovery Guide

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What to Expect When You Visit the WNDR Museum Boston

Please note:  The photographs in this article reflect the installations in place during our most recent visit.  Because WNDR presents a dynamic range of creations which change over time, your specific experiences may differ.

Get Ready for (Mostly) Bright Colors and Sensory Feedback

Heading down a mirrored passage at WNDR Boston and changing the kaleidoscope of colors with every step
Heading down a mirrored passage at WNDR Boston 

As soon as you pass through WNDR's lobby and ticket validation check point, you'll enter a different world - one filled with light, color, and interactive surfaces which will immerse you in a series of 20+ experiences created by artists, technologists, designers, and collaborators - and in some installations, you.

Brightly colored "Light Floors" based on motion-activated LCD technology respond to each step you take, creating unique patterns and ripples. 

Mirrors enhance the effect by making the walls disappear - except for when they're part of the art you create.

And finally, near the end of the exhibition space, digital imaging even turns you into part of the art.

How to Take the Right Path through WNDR Boston

Creating hand and finger patterns on the illuminated wall

Creating hand and finger patterns on the illuminated wall

WNDR's physical layout includes rooms of varying sizes plus connecting passages and spaces.  Because you can't see much beyond whichever area you're in, you may wonder where to go next once you're ready to move to the next experience.

Fortunately, attendants stationed at strategic points throughout the venue will lead you in the right direction.  

Not only does this approach prevent chaos, but it also ensures that you don't miss anything or visit spaces out of sequence - important, because as you move through the exhibits in the right order, the installations take you on a journey that becomes more immersive, more experiential.

Speaking to the Oracle
Speaking to the Oracle

Who Creates WNDR's Installations?

Each installation is by a different creator, digital (or other) artist, WNDR collaborator, or designer, and most represent the intersection of art with technology.

Responsive digital light floor at WNDR Boston
Responsive digital light floor in a mirrored space where each visitor creates new patterns

Although WNDR provides signs displaying the names of each installations and its creator, most visitors seem to ignore them. 

The art steals the show as everyone focuses on the dazzling sensory experiences. 

Waiting to enter a simulated garden shed
Waiting to enter a simulated garden shed

For example, INSIDEOUT, an installation by artist Leigh Sachwitz, gives you the experience of taking refuge in a garden shed during a sudden summer thunderstorm, based on her own childhood memories of Glasgow, Scotland. 

Along with a small group of about a dozen other visitors, you'll enter a "shed" defined by light projections. 

Once inside, you'll hear sounds of increasingly strong wind and rumbles of thunder, followed by a digital show of sprinkles, raindrops, lightening and more thunder followed by an almost horizontal downpour. 

A driving rainstorm in INSIDEOUT at WNDR Boston
A driving rainstorm in INSIDEOUT at WNDR Boston

Then as quickly as the storm rolled in, the sky begins to clear and finally sunshine bursts through - all in the space of about three minutes.  But while it's happening, it feels real.

This is, of course, a just a digital show.  But while it's happening, it feels real - and that's what is fascinating about this experience.

Perhaps the most celebrated installation at WNDR Boston is the Let's Survive Forever Infinity Mirror Room, created by renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and considered one of her masterpieces. 

Mirrored walls and silver balls inside Yayoi Kusama's Lets Survive Together infinity room
Mirrored walls and silver balls inside Yayoi Kusama's Lets Survive Together infinity room

Until now, the only place in the city to possibly experience Kusama's work has been at ICA Boston which holds her Love is Calling installation in its permanent collection, but it has not been on public display since a 2019-2020 show.

Fortunately, for Kusama fans, WNDR's president Chris Freeman states, "The Kusama exhibit is up for the foreseeable future."  The opportunity to experience her art is worth the price of admission.

Due to the fragility of this exhibit, you must take off your shoes (or put a cloth cover over them) and leave your coat and bag in a small locker area before entering the exhibition room.

Attendants allow only small groups of about 8 people to enter the Infinity Mirror Room at a time.  This is the only area we observed where children are not allowed. 

As you step into the mirrored space, you'll see hundreds of stainless steel balls hanging from the ceiling and covering parts of the floor, multiplied an infinite number of times by the mirrors.  Look at the silvery convex surfaces of the balls, and you will see infinite reflections there as well. 

Seeing infinity close up in Yayoi Kusama's Lets Survive Together
Seeing infinity close up in Yayoi Kusama's Lets Survive Together

In accordance with Kusama's directive, visits last only one minute. 

And of course you, as well as others in the room, are part of the multi-dimensional reflections.  As you gaze around, you'll notice how the reflections on the flat and rounded surfaces also bounce off one another in an infinite procession of shapes and light.

Over to one side, you can spot a mirrored column.  Move closer, and you'll see a peephole.  Peer through it, and you'll see yet another version of infinity.

Why 60 seconds?  That is part of the paradox of this sensory-heavy exhibit: you experience an illusion of endless space - an illusion that's intense, mesmerizing, never-ending, and almost hypnotic - within a strict limit of time. 

At WNDR, You CAN Touch the Art!

Unlike traditional museums, WNDR encourages you to touch almost everything and engage with it. 

If you're visiting with young children, you'll appreciate that!

Young child making moving patterns in an interactive floor at WNDR Boston
Young child making moving patterns in an interactive floor at WNDR Boston

As you pass through WNDR's exhibition spaces, you may see young children enjoying the tactile installations - especially those where the floors and walls change colors or shapes when touched

How old should children be to enjoy this type of dynamic experience?  In addition to several fully engaged toddlers, we even spotted a baby of about 12 months happily waving at the exhibits as her mom held her. 

Finally, You Become Art

The domed ceiling in the Wang Theatre, restored to its original splendor
Iris:  Images of visitors' eyes

In two of WNDR's coolest exhibits, you become part of the art.

In Iris, optical technology captures a close-up image of the your eye's iris, when then becomes part of a constantly changing collage projected across two large walls. 

Plus, seeing the actual colors of the pigments in your eyes may surprise you.

The domed ceiling in the Wang Theatre, restored to its original splendor
The domed ceiling in the Wang Theatre, restored to its original splendor

"The Wisdom Project created by WNDR Studios gives you the opportunity to become part of a visitor-generated installation by writing your answer to a question, "What do I know for sure?" on a slip of paper and attaching it to the wall. 

Take a few minutes to read other answers. Here's a random sample of what we saw:

  • "Tacos make everyone happy"
  • "I love cats"
  • "You are strong"
  • "If you can't change your experience... change your perspective"
  • "Tough times don't last"

Notice a trend?  They're all positive and upbeat. 

Which is exactly how we'd summarize our WNDR Boston experience.

What to Expect Next at WNDR Boston?

We had the opportunity to ask Chris Johnson, President of WNDR this question through email, and this is what he said:

"We want to find more ways to ignite curiosity through programming, our lounge offerings, or the WNDR Shop.  We view each location as a cultural and artistic hub that is constantly changing to fit the needs of the world and the communities around it.

We are hoping to bring more Boston creatives into the fold through these. "

Questions about WNDR Boston

A reminder that 'We Are All Artists' near the end of WNDR Boston's exhibits
A reminder that 'We Are All Artists' near the end of WNDR Boston's exhibits

How long should you plan to spend at WNDR Boston?

That depends.  Walking through the exhibition spaces and lingering for awhile at those which we found most interesting took us (2 adults) about 45 minutes. 

If you plan to visit with children, you'll probably be there longer, based on what we observed. 

WNDR's website suggests that you might spend as much as an hour and a half if you fully interact with all of the installations, which sounds about right.

Does WNDR Boston get crowded?

WNDR was not crowded (as you can probably tell from the photos throughout this article) when we were there on a weekday morning. 

However, you can expect to encounter larger crowds on weekends, holidays, and school vacation weeks.

The attendants at each installation area did an excellent job of keeping everyone moving in the right direction.

Boston Insider Tips:  How to Get the Most Out of Your WNDR Boston Visit

The Wang Theatre's Grand Lobby, photographed from the top of the stairs
WNDR Boston seen from George Howell Coffee in the Godfrey Hotel across Washington Street
  • Buy your tickets online in advance to get your preferred specific date/time, because time slots sell out. 
  • You will have a 15-minute window to enter WNDR, based on the time on your ticket.  So if your ticket is for 11am, you can enter between 11am - 11:15am.  If you are late, you will need to reschedule. To avoid this inconvenience, it's best to arrive early and spend the extra time walking around Downtown Crossing or enjoying a coffee or other beverage nearby.  You can easily spot several excellent cafes near WNDR, including George Howell Coffee directly across the street.  Especially if the weather is bad, you can take refuge in a waiting room next to Macy's to the left of the WNDR entrance.
  • Before or after your tour, have a meal or a drink at a nearby restaurant, pub, or coffee bar.  You'll find lots of appealing choices along Washington Street.  In addition to George Howell Coffee across from WNDR, check out French Quarter (#545) for Louisiana Cajun specialties, Caffe Nero (#560), Sip Wine Bar & Kitchen (#581) for wine tasting and small plates, Jaho Coffee Roaster & Wine Bar (665 Washington Street), and The Q (#660) for Mongolian hot pot, sushi, and Chinese fare.  At The Q, turn left onto Beach Street, and walk a block or two into Chinatown, which abounds with fantastic restaurants, bakeries, and tea shops.
  • If you're looking for other activities in the area, walk over to Boston Common (one block away) where the Freedom Trail begins.  As you walk along it, you'll important historical sites as well as interesting parts of modern-day Boston.
  • Planning an overnight visit and want to stay nearby?  The closest hotels (all excellent), include The Godfrey, the Hyatt Regency, and the Ritz-Carlton. 

Find more hotels near WNDR in Boston's nearby Theatre District

Getting to WNDR Boston:  Address, Tickets, & Other Useful Visitor Tips

WNDR Boston lobby gift shop
WNDR Boston lobby gift shop

Schedule for entry through last admission:  Monday - Wednesday, 11am - 8pm; Thursday - Friday, 11am - 10pm; Saturday 9am - 10pm; Sunday 9am - 8pm (please note: the venue closes one hour after the last admission time, meaning that you will have one hour to see the exhibit)

Please note:  This is a fairly intense sensory experience including sounds (sometimes unexpected) and flashing, abruptly changing, and moving lights

Tickets:  Buy online - please notice that some time slots have "peak" pricing

Address:  500 Washington Street in Boston's Downtown Crossing neighborhood (next to Macys and 1 block from Boston Common)
Nearest T stations:   Red Line/Downtown Crossing, Green Line/Park Street, Orange Line/Chinatown
Parking:  Boston Common Garage (about a 4-5 minute walk)

Onsite Amenities at WNDR Boston

WNDR offers a gift shop and coffee bar in the lobby, as well as a coat check for a small fee.

WNDR Chicago and WNDR San Diego

WNDR also has locations in Chicago and San Diego, and in case you are visiting those cities and wonder if the local WNDRs differ from the one in Boston, the good news is yes, you will get unique experience in each location - plus possibly, at some point, other locations.

As Chris Freeman, WNDR's president explains:

"We have some WNDR fan favorites that are finding their way in each location so far like Light Floor but with the opening of Boston, we were able to debut several new exhibits here.

As for expansion, WNDR is the sixth human sense that feeds creativity, curiosity and the idea of possibility.   It's a core trait that we all share across the globe and we're always looking to where we can ignite curiosity next. "

Find out about the Chicago and San Diego sites, as well as more about WNDR Boston.

Where Else Can You Find Immersive Experiences in Boston?

Although WNDR provides Boston's only wholly immersive art environment, you can also find other immersive experiences, especially in history. 

Here are several options for you to explore:

  • Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum Interactive Tour - Join the Revolution and throw tea into the harbor with live actors, 3D holograms, and replica ships
  • Freedom Trail Walking Tour - Costumed reenactors will entertain and inform you on this walking tour through history along Boston's Freedom Trail
  • History Pub Crawl along the Freedom Trail - Experience Boston the way our city's founders did in the same pubs where they planned a tea party and plotted a revolution
  • Patriots Day - Re-live the start of the American Revolution every spring at these immersive events with costumed reenactors
  • ICA Boston - Although ICA's contemporary art shows also include traditional formats, you can often experience immersive/interactive installations here

More Fun Ways to See Boston