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Rainbows, Ball Pits, and Balloons Collide at New York’s Whimsical New Art Pop-Up

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One of the 16 installations at Color Factory’s New York Pop-Up.

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews

One of the 16 installations at Color Factory’s New York Pop-Up.

Color Factory’s latest interactive art installation is as close as you’ll get to your Willy Wonka dreams.

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After selling out for eight months in San Francisco last year, Color Factory’s first NYC pop-up exhibit is about to open on Monday, August 20, with 16 never-seen-before interactive art installations. AFAR got a sneak peek inside the 20,000-square foot-space at 251 Spring Street in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood before it opens to the public.

The Instagram-friendly exhibit features installations from mostly local artists and creatives, including Jason Polan, Tamara Shopsin, and Andrew Kuo. Take a look at a few of our favorites (before they start to dominate your Instagram feed).

“100 Colors” by Emmanuelle Moureaux

The experience starts in the lobby, where you’re greeted by a ceiling full of rainbow streamers installed by Tokyo-based artist Emmanuelle Moureaux and a series of poems inspired by colors found in New York City.

After watching a short video about the pop-up exhibit, you’ll grab the first of many snacks included in the $38 entrance fee—a My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream from the custom Mochi Bar—before registering your email to a scannable QR code card. The plastic card allows you to take photos at various photo booths set up around the exhibit, including several cameras embedded in the ceiling for fun aerial shots. All you have to do is scan your card, smile for the camera, and the photos are sent to your inbox.

Color Factory has several aerial photo booths.

Come hungry, because after passing by a conveyor belt of macarons you’ll also have a chance to try gummy candy pairings, raspberry soda, and blue gelato (this place gives off serious Willy Wonka vibes).

Installations by Lakwena Maciver and Abimaro and 826NYC.

A stand-out installation includes Lakwena Maciver and Abimaro’s “Sing Me High Sing Me Low Bring Me Back Let Me Go,” which allows you to explore the relationship between the first and fifth notes in the musical scale in a room filled with miniature xylophones where you can play the calming tones. Another one is the “Balloon Wishes” room where you can play with oversized balloons with wishes from the students at 826NYC written upon them. The wishes run from the hilariously realistic (“A lot of pizza”) to the delightfully earnest (“Everybody doesn’t die until they’re 1,000,002”).

“Complementary Compliments” by Christine Wong Yap

Even though the entire space is set up for perfectly lit selfies, not all of the installations are pure Instagram bait. Queens-based artist Christine Wong Yap’s “Complementary Compliments” focuses on the interactions between pairs of guests who sit in separate phone booths across from each other and are asked to draw their partner’s “color portrait” and blind contour drawing before exchanging them along with a compliment card (examples include “I like your vibe” and “You’re a top banana”).

Color Factory’s signature ball pit

Last but not least, you’ll have a chance to play in a new version of the Color Factory’s signature ball pit that inspired thousands of Instagrams at the original San Francisco exhibit. New York’s ball pit is even bigger and features hundreds of thousands of sky blue balls (that they say have an antimicrobial coating that keeps them clean). Even the most skeptical of visitors won’t be able to resist jumping in and reconnecting with their inner child.

Color Factory New York is open from August 20 to September 30 every day except Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are still on sale for $38 online and are nontransferable.

>> Next: 10 U.S. Art Shows You Have to See This Fall

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