Museum of Illusions coming to Denver’s 16th Street Mall early next year

Museum of Illusions, the world’s biggest chain of private museums, will open a location on the 16th Street Mall in early 2023 as part of an aggressive expansion into new markets.

The immersive “edutainment” concept, which was launched in Zagreb, Croatia, in 2015, now has outposts in nearly 40 cities around the world, according to a press statement, and is hoping to reach 100 over the next four years. The Denver museum, at 951 16th St., will offer “mentally-stimulating optical illusions, 3D holograms, brain-puzzling exhibits and interactive illusion rooms” across 6,229 square feet of space, officials wrote.

“Denver is a unique city with an appreciation for new experiences and fresh perspectives, and the new Denver Museum of Illusions location is poised to provide that for residents and visitors from all over,” said Museum of Illusions CEO Jonathan Benjamin in a statement.

The museum is a corporate-owned and franchise business that specifically looked at Denver as a market it needed to fill globally, according to a publicist.

The pedestrian thoroughfare of Denver’s 1.25 mile-long 16th Street Mall has suffered over the last two years as pandemic shutdowns and remote-work shifts have driven office workers out of the city’s core.

The Downtown Denver Partnership will soon launch a second phase of its Pop-Up Denver program, which uses part of a $2.4 million investment funded by the federal government’s pandemic aid package, The Associated Press reported. The plan includes free rent for at least three months to fill empty storefronts.

“The brand’s expansion into Denver is exciting for the community as well as for the local governance and partners committed to revitalizing 16th Street Mall (16th Street Mall Project) and making it a top Denver attraction for a dynamic retail environment for years to come,” said Sean Kulzer, senior vice president at Tether Advisors, which secured a 10-year lease for the company.

The new Denver location is corporate-owned and not a franchise, and the company plans to hire between nine and 16 employees, according to the Denver Business Journal.

Museum of Illusions is also looking to compete in Denver’s highly competitive and fast-growing immersive entertainment market, joining big-ticket attractions such as Meow Wolf Denver’s Convergence Station and the just-launched world premiere of “Theater of the Mind,” co-created by Tony-winning musician David Byrne.

The city currently boasts home-grown theatrical productions big and small, and tours launched from (or at least constantly visiting) Denver that redeploy famous artists and their art in “immersive” settings — see Frida Kahlo, Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dalí, Monet and others.

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