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7 of the Coolest Rooms You Can Stand Inside

Chances are, you're in some sort of room right now—maybe your office or your living room. Look around. Is it boring? It’s pretty boring, isn’t it? But it doesn’t have to be like this. Just take some inspiration from, or at least go visit, some of the coolest rooms in the world.

1. ROOMS OF ILLUSIONS

Peter Kogler is an Austrian artist who uses art, music, and video on a large scale to blow your mind. This usually involves being in a room surrounded by some of the most headache-inducing wallpaper designs you have ever seen. According to Snježana Pintarić, the curator of Kogler's recent exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Croatia, the artist covered the walls, ceiling, and floor with a twisting tube design “in order to transform an ordinary ‘box-shaped’ space into one that in the observer generates the impression of being lost in time and space, as if we were lost in a virtual maze." Kogler wrapped an exhibition in Brussels last summer, but his next full-room artwork shouldn't be far off.

2. THE OBLITERATION ROOM

What do you get when you take a completely white room and let visitors cover every surface with thousands of colorful stickers? Artist Yayoi Kusama’s Obliteration Room. It’s called that because the walls and the white furniture are slowly covered with color, “obliterating” the original stark environment. Unfortunately, the Japanese artist and writer last displayed the room in 2011, so you can’t indulge your inner child right now—but with any luck, sometime in the future you might get to let your inner child run wild while collaborating with thousands of other people on a crazy modern art project.

3. INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM

If you like Kusama’s sticker idea but don’t think it's trippy enough, don’t worry—she has another installation you're going to love. Called Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, this one is meant to evoke “the dual sentiments of time standing still and going on forever," according to Wallpaper. But it better evoke that feeling in you quickly, since when it showed at a museum in New York City the lines were so long people were only allowed in for 40 seconds.

At 87 years old, Kusama is still producing art and her installations are still traveling the globe. She recently wrapped a show in London, and she also has a permanent exhibition at the Matsumoto City Museum of Art.

4. ANECHOIC CHAMBERS

It isn’t just artists who have created the craziest rooms ever—scientists and engineers have done it, too. When they need to test things with absolutely no outside influence, including sound waves, they use something called an anechoic chamber. “Anechoic” means the rooms are quiet. Deadly quiet. So quiet that if you spent any real amount of time in there you would go completely mad.

For 11 years, the quietest place on earth was located at Orfield Labs in Minneapolis. They even let people sit in the room, in the dark. The longest anyone managed to stay in their chamber was 45 minutes. The walls absorb so much sound that you can actually hear your internal organs working.

But in 2015, the Guinness World Record for quietest room was broken by a room at Microsoft. No word on how long someone managed to hang out in there … yet.

5. VAN GOGH ALIVE

Even the most ardent philistine is familiar with some of Vincent van Gogh’s work. You can’t escape The Starry Night or Sunflowers on everything from magnets to mobile phone cases. So how can museums make viewing his work more exciting when people are already so familiar with it? Apparently, by making it really, really big.

Using what the creators call a “vibrant symphony of light, color and sound, combined and amplified” to make “an unforgettable multi-sensory experience,” the "Van Gogh Alive" exhibition is supposed to let visitors view the works in a completely new way. It’s also accompanied by a classical score that represents how Van Gogh was feeling as he painted different works, since his life was so filled with emotional ups and downs.

Unlike some of the other shows on this list, this one is still going strong. You can find out if it is coming to a museum near you right here.

6. VARIOUS WORKS BY JAMES TURRELL

You’ll never experience his works the same way in different places, since the installations by artist James Turrell are all site-specific. He uses the rooms he is given, and then fills them with brilliant light.

Why does he do this? "My work has no object, no image and no focus," Turrell has said. "With no object, no image and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking. What is important to me is to create an experience of wordless thought."

If that doesn’t make any sense to you either, just keep looking at the pretty colors. He exhibits constantly, and his current show is running at the Long Museum in Shanghai, China.

7. SALT CATHEDRAL OF ZIPAQUIRÀ

Despite its fancy-sounding name, the Salt Cathedral isn’t actually a cathedral, although it does attract as many as 3000 people to church on an average Sunday. It is also a huge tourist draw in Colombia.

While a small chapel was built by the salt miners in some of their unused tunnels more than two football fields underneath the ground, a bigger church took its place in the 1950s. Then in 1990, the Colombian Society of Architects opened up a contest for a new, amazing design. The “cathedral” opened in 1995. Technically there are three rooms you can stand in, each representing a different stage of Jesus’s life.

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The Getty Center, Surrounded By Wildfires, Will Leave Its Art Where It Is
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The wildfires sweeping through California have left countless homeowners and businesses scrambling as the blazes continue to grow out of control in various locations throughout the state. While art lovers worried when they heard that Los Angeles's Getty Center would be closing its doors this week, as the fires closed part of the 405 Freeway, there was a bit of good news. According to museum officials, the priceless works housed inside the famed Getty Center are said to be perfectly secure and won't need to be evacuated from the facility.

“The safest place for the art is right here at the Getty,” Ron Hartwig, the Getty’s vice president of communications, told the Los Angeles Times. According to its website, the museum was closed on December 5 and December 6 “to protect the collections from smoke from fires in the region,” but as of now, the art inside is staying put.

Though every museum has its own way of protecting the priceless works inside it, the Los Angeles Times notes that the Getty Center was constructed in such a way as to protect its contents from the very kind of emergency it's currently facing. The air throughout the gallery is filtered by a system that forces it out, rather than a filtration method which would bring air in. This system will keep the smoke and air pollutants from getting into the facility, and by closing the museum this week, the Getty is preventing the harmful air from entering the building through any open doors.

There is also a water tank at the facility that holds 1 million gallons in reserve for just such an occasion, and any brush on the property is routinely cleared away to prevent the likelihood of a fire spreading. The Getty Villa, a separate campus located in the Pacific Palisades off the Pacific Coast Highway, was also closed out of concern for air quality this week.

The museum is currently working with the police and fire departments in the area to determine the need for future closures and the evacuation of any personnel. So far, the fires have claimed more than 83,000 acres of land, leading to the evacuation of thousands of people and the temporary closure of I-405, which runs right alongside the Getty near Los Angeles’s Bel-Air neighborhood.

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This 77-Year-Old Artist Saves Money on Art Supplies by 'Painting' in Microsoft Excel
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It takes a lot of creativity to turn a blank canvas into an inspired work of art. Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi makes his pictures out of something that’s even more dull than a white page: an empty spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.

When he retired, the 77-year-old Horiuchi, whose work was recently spotlighted by Great Big Story, decided he wanted to get into art. At the time, he was hesitant to spend money on painting supplies or even computer software, though, so he began experimenting with one of the programs that was already at his disposal.

Horiuchi's unique “painting” method shows that in the right hands, Excel’s graph-building features can be used to bring colorful landscapes to life. The tranquil ponds, dense forests, and blossoming flowers in his art are made by drawing shapes with the software's line tool, then adding shading with the bucket tool.

Since picking up the hobby in the 2000s, Horiuchi has been awarded multiple prizes for his creative work with Excel. Let that be inspiration for Microsoft loyalists who are still broken up about the death of Paint.

You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the artist's process in the video below.

[h/t Great Big Story]

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