Over the years we have visited loads of various museums. They come in all sizes and focus on a host of topics. Some of our favorite are the one-off type that feature some unique subject. A newcomer to the Kansas City scene is the Museum of Illusions KC, located in Union Station. We dropped by to check out their exhibits on forced perspective, which some refer to as optical illusions.

We want to thank the Museum of Illusion for their hospitality. Rest assured all opinions are our own.

The idea of forced perspective has been used for centuries to fool the viewers eyes and brains.

It’s All About Angles

Some versions of forced perspective rely solely on the viewpoint. This oversized chair (or is it a bed) is made with a grouping of pieces.  When viewed from one distinct angle, the pieces line up to create the illusion of a piece of furniture. Of course, it should be noted that two-dimensional photographs often lack the ability to fool the mind as well as the naked eye. When you visit you will see this for yourself.

Staff at the Museum of Illusions KC have placed viewing stations in spots that allow the best vantage point of the forced perspectives.

Visual Aids

To assist in getting the best vantage point, staff at the Museum of Illusions KC have located these viewing station identifiers throughout the place. When you see one of these, you will want to check it out to see how it creates the best version of the forced perspective. Let’s see what this viewing station has to offer.

Crystal and Amanda ham it up at one of the displays inside the Museum of Illusions KC.

Feelings of Goliath

The window offers a look into a room that is designed to fool the eyes and brain. Crystal and Amanda entered the room and took their place on opposite ends. By designing the room with a strategically painted design and proper wall placement, it creates a forced perspective that one person is incredibly larger. To verify this idea, I had them switch sides to show the difference. The silly poses were all their idea.

Step into the mirror room and suddenly you feel like you are in a crowd.

Is It Crowded In Here?

Not every exhibit in the Museum of Illusion KC uses the same type of forced perspective. They have a room that is made up of a panel of mirrors. Once we entered and closed the door, the expanded reflections created an army of inhabitants. This illusion is used in a lot of attractions, with quite a few being mazes designed to confuse those who enter. During our visit, we noticed quite a few families, which may be the case since Science City is also located in Union Station. (You can learn about Science City here.)

Colors and shapes combine to make an optical illusion about size at the Museum of Illusions KC.

This One Surprised Us

I’m sure many of us have seen a variety of optical illusions that focus on distances. Sometimes they are lines that appear different lengths, but end up being identical. This is the same thing we found in a series of displays in one portion of the museum. The panel above was one of the most surprising versions of this illusion that we had ever seen. We were positive they would be different lengths. Oh the tricks the mind plays due to shades of color and positioning.

The vortex Tunnel throws visitors for a loop.

Getting Sideways

A crowd favorite at the Museum of Illusions KC is the Vortex Tunnel. A catwalk leads visitors through what would seem to be an everyday tunnel. Once you enter the space, a motion sensor starts the rotating cylinder. By combining sound, light, and movement, they create a forced perspective that causes even the most well-grounded to falter. In a much earlier portion of my life, I worked as a window cleaner who scurried up 60 foot extension ladders to wash windows that sloped back toward me. This was all done as locomotives passed by underneath. Clearly, I am not easily phased by external stimulus.

What is Going On Here?

As you can see from this short video, the rotating tunnel creates an interesting effect on those passing through the Vortex. The forced perspective created here makes guests cling to the railing as the room seems to shift. We ended up having to experience this exhibit multiple times to verify its effect. Oh the things we do in the name of research. Do you see the effect in the video above?

Are these heads really disconnected from their bodies or is this another case of forced perspective?

I’ll Have Your Head

Earlier in our visit, we happened across a small room that was empty, except for a hole in the ceiling. I noticed the room, but didn’t explore any further. After passing through the Vortex Tunnel, we came toward the end of the museum. In this final room, there is a grouping of exhibits. In one corner sits a mirror covered table with a platter of fruit. I turned away and poof a head appeared on the plate. It didn’t take long to realize how this forced perspective works. Of course, it is still a picture worthy illusion.

The Museum of Illusions KC has a human kaleidoscope in their repertoire of exhibits.

They’re Multiplying

Another display in this final room, is an extra long kaleidoscope. Crystal and Amanda were the first to discover its unique properties. Where most kaleidoscopes have a viewing hole on only one end, this one has it on both ends. When you look in, you see a bunch of the other person. By turning it, you can create an infinite number of designs, and all with a friends head in them.

The authors are left scrambled by all of the exhibits at the Museum of Illusions KC.

Forced Perspective at Museum of Illusions

By the time we finished our tour of the Museum of Illusions KC, the three of us were all jumbled up. If you enjoy forced perspective types of optical illusions, then a visit to this Kansas City museum may be right up your alley. Tickets are $15.00 for adults and $10.00 for kids 6-13 years old. You can get a family pass (2 adults and 2 children) for $40.00. Remember that the Union Station parking lot has a fee, but this can be bypassed by parking in the nearby Crossroads District and taking the streetcar over. It’s an added bonus to get to ride the streetcar. Have fun and don’t let your eyes fool you.

the authors signatures.

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