Looking to be creatively wowed this spring? From forward-thinking museums to amusement park-style venues, we’ve compiled ten of the top places in the U.S. to immerse yourself in installation art. Whether you prefer minimalistic light installations, bold outdoor sculptures, or alternate realities with rich storylines, you’re sure to find your muse in these destinations.
Van life allows you to venture anywhere your inspiration takes you. Make the most of this flexible lifestyle by planning a visit to one of these locations or combining multiple options for an art-themed road trip. Pro tip: many of the locations are in the Southwest and Western regions of the country and could easily be linked together on a single itinerary. Read on for all the details.
The name says it all. This group sparks wonder with a diverse and ever-changing selection of art installations, including modern lightscapes that beg to be photographed and cerebral works touching on subjects like perspective and immigration. Make an evening out of your visit with a later ticket time and signature cocktails from Wonderspaces’ full bar. Can’t get enough? Visit Wonderspaces’ other locations in San Diego, Philadelphia, and Austin.
Salvation Mountain is an impressively large piece of folk art created by one dedicated artist. Leonard Knight’s life’s work was to create this unique man-made mountain, where every surface is painted with colorful patterns and heart-felt messages like “God is Love” and “Love is Universal.” In the last decade, the installation has become more well-known with appearances in fashion editorials, the film Into the Wild, and plenty of influencer photos. Van camp nearby for unfettered access to the mountain.
Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Those who appreciate both classical and modern art will enjoy the mix at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. From masterpiece paintings to large contemporary installations, from representational to abstract, you’ll find a bit of everything at this museum. Keep the immersive experience going with a visit to the on-site Le Jardinier restaurant. This modern French restaurant treats visitors to playful, artistic dishes inspired by the museum’s exhibits.
Los Angeles, California
Fans of festivals like Burning Man and Coachella will be drawn to L.A.’s Wisdome. Inside a cluster of five eye-catching geodesic domes, you’ll find art, music, virtual reality, and meditation. Imagery projected planetarium-style on the inside of the domes is meant to envelop you and encourage altered states of mind. Check out their website for a wide range of live events including workshops and concerts.
Photo By Kate Russell via @meowwolf
House of Eternal Return
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The company that created the House of Eternal Return, Meow Wolf, started as a small artist collective in Santa Fe. While now an ultra-successful venture with multiple locations in the U.S., Meow Wolf’s DIY origins can still be seen in the maximalist, multi-sensory experiences offered at the House of Eternal Return. There, you’ll explore a house with mind-melting portals to other universes. Dedicated visitors can dig deeper and uncover a mystery narrative through hidden clues. The space also features a concert venue; buy tickets for an unforgettable live music experience.
Photo By Jess Bernstein via @meowwolf
The newest offering from Meow Wolf, Convergence Station brings all of the group’s trippy, sci-fi goodness to the Mile High City. The location’s theme is a travel station between worlds. It is full of interactive, moveable pieces that make visitors an active part of the experience. If you decide to add more Meow Wolf to your bucket list, you’ll also want to check out Omega Mart in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Vegas location is inside Area15, an immersive playground for kids and adults alike.
As their clever name suggests, this innovative group operates at the intersection of art and technology. They currently have locations in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Miami Beach, but D.C. is their home base. The group invites visitors to “jump into the metaverse.” Expect stunning wall-to-wall (and floor) projections in blank box spaces. The group is also known for incorporating visual elements that react to your movements.
Seven Magic Moutains
Las Vegas, Nevada
Speaking of Vegas, we recommend Seven Magic Mountains. The simple yet high-impact installation is perfect for art lovers who prefer to be outside. Plus, the experience is completely free and doesn’t require reservations. Marvel at artist Ugo Rondinone’s nod to human life in the desert, portrayed through stacks of colorful boulders reaching over 30 feet high. Van adventurers can get the best views–and photos–by camping nearby and visiting at sunrise.
When it comes to immersive installation art, Yayoi Kusama is one of the greats. She pioneered an entire style of abstract environments featuring repeating objects, light, and mirrors. To experience one of her installations in the flesh, visit the WNDR Museum. You’ll also get to explore a variety of technicolor dreamscapes and even witness work by legendary pop artist Keith Haring. If that doesn’t sound like an art destination fit for a bucket list, we don’t know what does.
Beacon, New York
One of the U.S.’s largest museums of contemporary art lies in the small city of Beacon, NY. There, you’ll find thought-provoking and minimalist works by artists like Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, and Andy Warhol. Dia also owns several site-specific permanent installations around the U.S., including large land art style pieces in New Mexico and Utah. If you’re looking for inspiration on your travels, check out their projects around the country.
Wherever you choose to travel, we hope you have a chance to explore the new wave of immersive installation art across the country. For the van to take you there, visit Rec Van.