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.