IT’S ALL AN ILLUSION
Experience the fascinating, amusing, and bewildering Museum of Illusions.
Back in the days when social media sites were a thing of the future and hotmail and MSN were the only things in town, I remember receiving numerous emails on various topics including moral stories, poetry, news, but the one thing that I’d always find myself hooked to irrespective of who sent it or how good or bad it was, were posts on optical illusion. It had fascinated me as a 13-year-old and it continues to fascinate me as a 23-year-old.
An illusion typically described as the distortion of senses, recreationally, could range from optical illusions that can be seen on a piece of paper to larger real-life sensory simulations that can really bend your brain. Geometrical illusions are said to be caused due to a phenomenon called lateral inhibition. This means neuron in this part of the brain responds to lines and oriented in different directions and when one neuron is turned on it turns off the activity of its neighbour. This theory may not stand true for all the illusions we have and thus the ultimate cause of the illusion that most of us experience remains a mystery.
And since mystery is always intriguing, the news of the Museum of Illusions coming to Oman excited me. It is a whole new world of blue and white nestled in a corner of Muscat Grand Mall. Once you enter the gate, you get engulfed into a parallel universe where things don’t make much sense and everything around you will seem magical.
Surprisingly, the day I decided to go to the Museum of Illusions was a weekday and yet it was pretty busy with people of all age groups getting amused by what they were experiencing. The first room I entered was the Ames Room, where I got to be a dwarf and a giant just by walking across the room. The trapezoidal room works on the trip of perspective, where the person standing in one corner of the room appears to be a giant and the one standing in another corner appears to be a dwarf on the mirror that’s kept in the room. In fact, if the same person walks back and forth the corners, he will appear to grow and shrink.
The tilted room is another strange room I entered where the ceilings, floors and walls are tilted. As a result, when you walk through the room you feel all wobbly and distorted as though you’ve been intoxicated. This room basically messes up your balance and confuses the visual signals sent to your brain. Hence, If you close your eyes and try standing you won’t feel disoriented.
However, the Vortex, which was my favourite room, takes disorientation to a whole new level. This harmless room looks like a trippy dark room with a simple bridge that helps you go from point A to point B. But the 30 second walk between the 2 walks will make you question your ability to just walk. Its walls are like a circular chamber that rotates constantly with club-like lights. However, once you start walking on the bridge you will feel as though it is the bridge that you are standing on that is rotating and you will try hard to maintain your balance and stand straight. It’ll look really funny to someone who is watching you from outside but dare them to do the walk. You’ll feel like you’ve just been on a twirling roller coaster ride.
There are a number of other attractions in this small space that will mess up your mind and force you to understand why this is happening. The infinity room and the kaleidoscope play with mirrors make you go ‘woah’ at the power of the ordinary object in your house that you use everyday. There are a number of geometric and photography illusions adorning every part of the wall of the Museum of Illusions. There is not one space that you can look at which won’t make you ask ‘how?’ or ‘why?’. You will also find holograms and stereograms, like the ones you occasionally come across on Facebook but to experience it on paper is totally worth it. There are also a number of brain teasers and puzzles, which could take you hours to solve and if you have a competitive streak in you might just end spending a lot of time on them.
Experience the bewilderment of uncertainly and mystery in the Museum of Illusions.