Usually, Midwesterners seeking a fully interactive museum experience are stuck traveling to the coasts to visit places such as Candytopia in San Francisco or Color Factory in New York City. Thanks to Jason Percival that coastal domination is no longer the case, as this month marks the grand opening of WonderCleveland, a new interactive museum in the Great Lakes Mall in Mentor. After testing the interactive museum waters with the temporary “Winter WonderCleveland” in 2019, Percival opened WonderCleveland July 1 with 16 exhibits that allow participants to touch, explore and experience exhibits that impact the world around them. Tickets for the exhibit range from $16-$19 for adults, while children are $12 and kids under three are free. Before exploring the wonders of the space, here are three things to know.
Guests can enjoy both augmented reality and hands-on exhibits. The augmented reality portion of the exhibit require visitors to download the Zappar app, which allows them to see different augmented reality exhibits. In one room, visitors can open their phone up to see a virtual alien in a cage while in the volcano room guests will be able a to see virtual triceratops that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. “Guests will enjoy the use of augmented reality features on their phones and other tech-forward amenities inside the space,” Percival says. “We have also included some more traditional and hands-on exhibits so guests can enjoy quality time together. I think we've all had enough virtual time over the past year.” Additionally, there’s a selfie room where visitors can memorialize their visit with a snapshot behind one of the many physical backgrounds. “Take 10 selfies so you make sure you get the one that you love,” Percival says.
The exhibits are a full-body experience. WonderCleveland is a unique museum experience built on technology, augmented reality and interactive art exhibits. One of the more popular exhibits is Lego pong, where visitors can use their hands to manipulate virtual Lego pieces to try to knock a ball past their opponent — much like the classic video game. That theme of immersion carries over into the space room as well. Through the magic of motion sensors and projection screens, participant’s silhouettes are displayed on a space background where they can shoot stars out of their hands and feet based off their movements. “We are an experiential space for guests to travel into different environments and be immersed in foreign surroundings which can be both relaxing and exciting but always fun,” says Percival.
Take your time going through the exhibits. This isn't a space you should rush through. While it can be navigated in 10 minutes, those who travel off the beaten path will be rewarded. “Anyone who goes through the exhibit quickly will no doubt miss something,” Percival says. With multiple hidden rooms and features, he recommends that patrons take their time when visiting to make sure they see everything the space has to offer. “Augmented reality requires slow gestures, and our scenes are best when taken in slowly at a relaxing pace of quality time with friends and family,” Percival says. “We want this to be a space where people come and spend a whole afternoon hanging out and enjoying all the different things we have to offer.”
When You Go: 7850 Mentor Ave., Mentor, wondercleveland.com