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Be Lifted Away at the Balloon Museum

Until January 14th, One Manhattan Square’s sublime views and ample amenities will find a novel companion just a bit downtown, as The Balloon Museum brings its perspective-bending art spectacle to Pier 36 at The Seaport.

The Balloon Museum, a Rome export established in 2020 to showcase inflatable art, fills the venue with works by 18 artists that you can grab, squeeze and bounce across. It’s a buoyant exhibition that engages the senses through airy creations.

The installation eschews the austerity of traditional galleries, instead employing the 80,000 square foot pier space to transport visitors into an inflatable dreamscape. Here, avant garde meets amusement park; the artists (like Camilla Falsini, Sasha Frolova, and their cohort of contemporary creative minds) actively encourage frolicking amongst their works. Installations range from an oceanic ball pit to infinity rooms perfect for social media boasting; this is art made for interaction.

Stepping further into the air-filled fantasy, virtual reality melds with tangible art to sweep visitors lightyears away without ever leaving the pier. Inside AirScape, minimalist decor gives way to sweeping extraterrestrial vistas when virtual reality visors transport wearers to alien worlds. The Hyperstellar exhibit is centered around a metallic ball pit designed to mimic interstellar travel—visitors splash through the pit as psychedelic lights flash overhead and galactic projections swirl across every surface, situating them in the distant cosmos. These transformative multimedia installations intermix with attractions like a labyrinthine hedge maze and light-filled smoke bubbles that appear then disappear.

The Balloon Museum leverages cutting-edge technology against more analog art, crafting a fantastical interplay between digital dreams and observable creation.

Within Rub Kandy’s dollhouse-like “Ginjos” exhibit, tots can go gaga over its plush creatures—but vintage gaming fans will appreciate the fluorescent, quintessentially 1990s backdrop. In Cyril Lancelin’s inflated labyrinth, children ricochet about while their elders contemplate deeper metaphor upon reaching the mirrored nucleus. And Karina Smigla-Bobinski’s floating “Ada” sculpture (enveloped in spikes and charcoal) invites museumgoers of all ages to lift its weightless mass, splattering inkblots against the walls in a collective muralism.

Like the eventual flattening of its inflatable medium, the museum will fold up shop on January 14th—but not before leaving an indelible mark on Downtown Manhattan.