Should we always believe what we see right in front of us? Can you trust your senses? Has technology made things clearer or muddied the waters between reality and fiction? And is anything really as it seems? Illusions distort the senses and mystify our logical thinking. The human mind can be easily fooled.

ILLUSION: NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS offers an insight into the human mind through an exploration of the motivations and mechanisms of sensory deception. This exhibition joins magic with psychology, optical illusions with scientific reasoning, and confusion with clarity.

ILLUSION investigates how perception underpins the way we see, feel, think and understand the world. It shows how what we perceive is often radically different from the reality of what our eyes observe. Can we control our susceptibility to illusion? Is our tendency to be deceived an advantage in some circumstances and can we use that very human ability—to see and feel things that aren’t there—to benefit our lives in some way? Perhaps…

A mind-bending exhibition developed by Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin, ILLUSION joins magic with psychology and optical illusions with scientific reasoning to distort the senses. Through a series of imaginative artworks, ILLUSION shows that what we perceive is often radically different from the reality of what we observe by playfully allowing visitors to experience concepts used by magicians and explored by neuroscientists.

The ILLUSION website has detailed information about all of the exhibits from the Dublin showing.



Themes explored

  • Vision
  • Psychology
  • Hearing
  • Neuroscience
  • Perception


Visitor experience

See it. But don't believe it. ILLUSION was created as an intimate labyrinth of installations where low theatrical lighting distorts the senses and mystifies logical thinking. This makes for a unique and gently disorienting experience. From insects that appear to climout of a screen onto the audience to a flow of oil that seems to flow upwards back into its can, at ILLUSION seeing is not believing.

Curated by an expert multidisciplinary team

ILLUSION was curated by Richard Wiseman, psychologist, author, magician and Professor of the Public Understanding of Illusion at the University of Hertfordshire, and was researched by deception artist and TV magician Paul Gleeson, who is also the world’s youngest professional escapologist. This curatorial team selected twenty-two works from the open call that best fit their overall vision for ILLUSION.

What you'll need

  • Footprint: ~4500 sq. ft.
  • Ceiling height: Minimum 10ft.
  • Environment: 65-68°f / 18-20°c
  • Dwell time: Approximately 1 hour
  • Power needs: c.30 amps
  • Set up time: ~8 days
  • Take down time: ~6 days
  • Delivery / pick up time: ~2 hours
  • Science Gallery team supplied: 2 x techs, 2 x art handlers/assistants
  • Venue needs for set up/take down: 2 x techs/riggers, 2 x assistants, access to wood and/or metal shop
  • Equipment: Fork lift, pallet jacks, wheel boards
  • Gallery: Lighting and rig

Want to know more?

Get in touch with Sarah Durcan, who is happy to help you with your enquiry or supply you with more details about any of our exhibitions.
Talk to Sarah at or +353 87 2855613