Photo: Museum of Ice Cream

8 Pop-Up Museums in the US You Need to See in 2020

United States Museums Insider Guides
by Tarah Chieffi Feb 7, 2020

If the mere thought of visiting the Louvre and British Museum make you want to take a long nap, know that there are museums out there for those who are seeking a less traditional experience. Pop-up museums offer visitors highly curated experiences that are nothing like traditional museum settings — you can take photos and laugh out loud without putting anyone out.

While the subject matter of pop-up museums runs the gamut from candy to optical illusions, the most attractive feature of pop-up museums is that they offer an immersive, tactile, and participatory experience that allows visitors to interact with the art instead of being passive observers. Whether there’s a pop-up museum in your own town or you choose to make a day trip out of it, these one-of-a-kind experiences excite all five senses are worth the drive.

1. Candytopia


Photo: Candytopia/Facebook

Candytopia bills itself as an “outrageously interactive candy wonderland” and as soon as you step inside this Wonka-esque world, you’ll know exactly why. Part art exhibit and part playground, this highly Instagrammable pop-up museum lets you roam the jungle with lions, tigers, and dinosaurs all made of candies, as well as jump into a giant pool of marshmallows. Tickets are $28 for adults, $20 for children ages 4-12, and kids 0-3 are free. Candytopia is currently open in Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Miami, but it’s always adding new cities to its super-sweet lineup.


  • Candytopia Philadelphia, 901 Market Street #1150, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Tickets on sale now through February 17, 2020.
  • Candytopia Phoenix, 15147 N. Scottsdale Road Suite 180, Scottsdale, AZ 85254. Tickets on sale now through February 23, 2020.
  • Candytopia Miami, Aventura Mall, 19501 Biscayne Boulevard Spc 2976, Miami, FL 33180. Tickets on sale now through February 29, 2020


2. Museum of Illusions

Museum of illusions

Photo: Matador Network/Facebook

The Museum of Illusions is so popular that it currently has more than 20 locations worldwide, with more opening up all the time. From Athens, Greece, to Orlando, Florida, this mind-bending museum has a lifetime’s worth of tricks that will not only amaze, but leave you asking, “How’d they do that?” Luckily, it gives you the chance to learn a few things about how these illusions are created, making it a stop that’s both fun and educational. Tickets can be bought online or at the door and pricing varies based on location.

Where: Worldwide

3. Color Factory

Color Factory collaborates with local artists, makers, and food vendors (special treats are offered in some of the displays) to create interactive exhibits that celebrate the joy of color. Because it works with local artists, each location is different, but you can expect rooms filled with swirling confetti; mesmerizing, rainbow-hued art installations; and, of course, a giant ball pit that’s just begging you to dive in. To ensure you actually get to put your phone away and experience the fun, Color Factory has placed photo booths throughout the museum where guests can snap a quick pic and get back to exploring. Currently open in New York City and Houston, ticket prices vary by location and advance purchase is required.


  • Color Factory NYC, 251 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013
  • Color Factory Houston, 3303 Kirby Drive, Houston, TX 77098

4. Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return

Meow Wolf House of Eternal Return

Photo: Meow Wolf/Facebook

Visitors to Santa Fe’s House of Eternal Return compare the experience to walking through a dream or falling down Alice’s rabbit hole. Housed in a vacant former bowling alley, Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return is more than a museum — there is also a mystery to solve during your visit. There is no set path through this trippy wonderland, leaving you to walk, climb, and crawl through the exhibits to examine the “clues” as you see fit. Adult tickets start at $30, child tickets at $20, and students, seniors, and military members can get tickets for as little as $25. Meow Wolf, the art collective behind this museum, will be adding new locations in Las Vegas and Denver later this year.

Where: House of Eternal Return, 1352 Rufina Circle, Santa Fe, NM 87507

5. Museum of Ice Cream

A day at the Museum of Ice Cream will satisfy even the most insatiable sweet tooth. You can slide into a pink pool filled with sprinkles, play DJ on pink turntables, and sit in a pink subway car. And, yes, you can even eat real ice cream in the attached cafe. Guests can fork out extra for a private party in the sprinkle pool and other private events, but regular tickets are just under $40 at both locations and children two and younger don’t need a ticket.


  • Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco, 1 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94108
  • Museum of Ice Cream New York City, 558 Broadway, New York, NY 10012

6. Museum of Selfies

Your selfie game is about to get a major upgrade. The Museum of Selfies has everything you need (it even rents and sells selfie sticks) to capture the ultimate selfie. You can spend all day finding your best angle in a gold-coin-filled bathtub, on your own private jet, and even sitting on a Game of Thrones-style throne made of selfie sticks. It wouldn’t be a pop-up museum without a giant pool, and this one is filled with thousands of squishy, yellow emojis. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for kids ages 5-12, with family discounts and VIP packages also available.

Where: Museum of Selfies, 6757 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028

7. Rosé Mansion

The Rosé Mansion is more than just an opulent spot to sip wine, it’s an interactive wine-tasting visit. While you’re sampling delicious wines, you’ll learn about the history of the beverage and get a quick science lesson on how it’s made. After your lesson, you’ll enter RoséLand — an Instagram-friendly playland where you can order from the world’s largest Rosé wine list. This 21-and-over pop-up also has food, live music, and special events. Tickets are $45 per person (it does have a $35 “happy hour” on Mondays and Thursdays) and it’s highly recommended you book your tickets in advance.

Where: Rosé Mansion, 111 W32nd Street, New York, NY 10001

8. Happy Place

You can’t not look on the bright side when you visit this playful pop-up dedicated to all things happy. Founded under the notion that we could all use a little more happiness in our lives, Happy Place has smiles hiding around every corner. With giant chocolate chip cookies, unicorns, and Instagram-worthy backdrops, Happy Place is fun for the whole family. In fact, it has made so many people happy in the US that it’ll soon be opening a location in Australia. Tickets may be available at the door, but guests are encouraged to book a date and time in advance. Ticket prices vary by location, but you can expect to pay $30 or less per person.


  • Happy Place Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay, 3950 S Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV 89119
  • Happy Place Philadelphia, King of Prussia Mall, 160 N Gulph Road, King of Prussia, PA 19406

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