Four Optical Illusions that Will “Fool” You

It’s time to get something off of our chest… we hate optical illusions.

April Fools! We got you, didn’t we? It’s safe to say that we will never stop loving optical illusions. In fact, April Fool’s Day is one of our favorite holidays, can you guess why? Because it’s April Fool’s Day every single day here at the Museum of Illusions NYC. We love to fool people with our illusions, but we don’t like to leave them hanging. First, we fool, then we explain. We’re pretty fair pranksters around here. 

In honor of what is, in our opinion, the best day of the year, we scoured the internet (and our own galleries) to pull together four of our favorite illusions that we’re certain will have you “fooled.” So, without further ado, take a look at four of our favorite optical illusions, and see if you can outsmart them. Hint: you probably can’t…

The Ames Room

The Ames Room is one of our most popular attractions at the Museum of Illusions, New York City, and for good reason. This tilted room has been baffling the public since its invention in 1946. We’re taking an in-depth look at the history of the Ames Room in our next post, so be sure to tune in for that. But for now, take a look at the photo below and see if you can figure out why the Ames Room is one of the most popular illusions to date.

Museum of Illusions New York Ames Room optical illusion
Our Ames Room optical illusion at the Museum of Illusions NYC.

In short, the Ames Room messes with your sense of perception with tilted floors and angled ceilings. It’s a lot easier to clock this illusion in person, but the camera isn’t as skilled as the naked eye. If you ever want to trick your friends and family with a mind-bending Ames Room photo, stop into the museum to see what it’s all about.

Troxler’s Fading Circle

You know when you look at someone and the whole world seems to fade away? It might be true love, but it’s most likely the Troxler effect. Look at the image below, and focus on the red dot in the center. If it’s not working for you, try enlarging or zooming in on the image.

Troxler's Fading Circle. A red dot inside of a blue circle, the optical illusion will cause the blue circle to fade away when you stare at the red dot.
The Troxler’s Fading Circle optical illusion. Stare at the red dot in the center. If you can’t see it, try enlarging or zooming in on the image.

If you fixate your vision on the red dot for long enough, the entire surrounding blue circle will fade away. We have a Troxler’s Fading Circle at the Museum of Illusions. It’s always a joy to watch guest’s minds be blown.

We’ve heard people speculate that whether or not the circle fades away has a correlation with how good your survival instincts are. We can’t tell you if you’ll be able to survive a zombie apocalypse, but we can tell you that the Troxler effect occurs partially in the brain, but mostly in the eye. Essentially, we all have blind spots in our vision that our brains fill in for us. When you focus on a specific spot for long enough, your brain decides that this spot is more important than filling in the peripheral blind spots. This phenomenon occurs all the time, but it happens quicker with the circle pictured above because of the low-contrast colors.

Kanizsa Triangle

The Kanizsa Triangle is one of our favorites because it perfectly illustrates how optical illusions work. When you look at the Kanizsa Triangle, you see two triangles, and three little circles, right?

An example of the Kanizsa Triangle optical illusion by the Museum of Illusions New York City.
A Kanizsa Triangle. How many triangles and circles do you see?

The thing is, there are no triangles and no circles in that image. Neither of the perceived triangles in the image are whole triangles, and we don’t see that the little circles actually look a lot more like Pacman. We talk a lot about optical illusions occurring when our brains start to “fill in the gaps,” and this is the perfect example of how. Your brain has preconceived notions of what triangles and circles look like, so it fills in the gaps where it assumes there should be triangles and circles. Pretty cool, right? We think so.

Coffer Illusion

When we first came across the Coffer Illusion, our minds were blown. Yours definitely will be, too. The image below looks like it’s made up of elaborately decorated rectangles. Maybe like a charcoal drawing of a fancy garage door? However you see it, it’s definitely not as it seems.

The Coffer Illusions, created by Anthony Norcia and presented by the Museum of Illusions NYC.
The Coffer Illusion, created by Anthony Norcia.
“Coffer Illusion” by amnorcia is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

A closer look at the Coffer Illusion shows that the rectangles are actually made up of… circles. This optical illusion was created by Anthony Norcia, and was named one of the top ten best new illusions of 2006- deservedly so. Exactly how the Coffer figure works is still debated, but it can be classified as a cognitive illusion where your perspective switches between seeing rectangles or circles depending on how you look at it.  

If you really want to really trick your friends this month, bring them into the Museum of Illusions NYC, where every day is April Fool’s Day. Click here to book your visit- see you soon!