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WNDR Museum Opens in Boston’s Downtown Crossing

(Photo courtesy of Sabine Laurent de Cannon) “One of the many exhibits at Boston’s WNDR Museum.”

Sabine Laurent de Cannon
Connector Contributor 

“My job is [to] make the impossible possible,” Giancarlo Natale said as he concluded leading a tour through the exhibits. Natale is the general manager of the new attraction in Boston’s Downtown Crossing: WNDR Museum. Advertised on its website as an “ever-evolving immersive art experience,” the museum’s exhibits are not your typical art displays. They are focused almost exclusively on multi-sensory technology, offering a unique blend of art and technology that is hard to find elsewhere.  

The WNDR brand began in Chicago, Illinois. In 2018, the first museum opened from the imagination of Brad Keywell. Keywell was the founder of Uptake, an AI software company. His motto while creating the museum’s concept was, “You are your own artist.” A variation of this motto is also featured in the Boston and San Diego museums. Keywell aimed to create a gallery where guests contribute to the art by touching, walking, listening, sitting, or lying down. Guests would feel more in tune with the displays because they would be a literal part of them.

In Boston, roughly a dozen exhibits are spread across WNDR’s several rooms. Each exhibit varies in size and its level of reciprocity. The most interactive displays require visitors to pick up objects, lay down, move, and write. A couple of the exhibits are characterized as “shows,” though they do not match the definition in the typical sense. Every exhibition is unique from the others, each showcasing its use of technology in different ways. The experience of walking through the museum is genuinely different from most other art displays in Greater Boston. 

Admission tickets start at $32, depending heavily on the date and time of admission. WNDR Chief Executive Officer Brian Haines claimed that Boston’s collegiate community was a prime demographic for the museum’s content. However, no student discounts appear to be offered by the museum, although it is a common practice amongst the other art galleries in the Boston area. There are special events on different days of the week. For example, a poet is scheduled for a live show each weekend. According to Natale, the poet’s show centers around the audience picking topics and words, the performer will then craft live writings surrounding the audience-presented topics. On April 16, from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, a DJ will perform at a special event entitled “WNDR After Dark.” Natale was confident that the museum would continue to host new experiences and performers for exclusive one-night-only style occurrences.  

Traveling from Lowell to the museum can be a bit of a journey. Not only do tickets for the weekends go quickly, they sell for a specific time slot. Additionally, the location makes commuting somewhat tricky. Parking is priced fairly high in the Downtown Crossing area, and traffic can be unfavorable. Driving from South or East Campus takes around one hour without any holdup. The MBTA Commuter Rail is also an option, taking about 1.5 hours with one transfer to the Orange Line at North Station. These factors should be taken into consideration if considering a visit.  

Regardless of the hike, Haines believes it will be worth it: “We’ve got not only beautiful fine art like the Kusama, we’ve got all these interactive pieces. It’s a great way to escape from the outside world and lose yourself in this idea of wonder.” Haines claims the museum is not only a reflection of Boston’s culture, but also a way to shape and move everyone’s understanding of art itself. 


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