Seeing can be deceiving! In this exhibit we offer some “brain” teasers that question whether our brains are correctly interpreting what our eyes see...or filling in gaps. Do You See What I See?

In this Exhibit

two women crouch down in front of a curved mirror that distorts their reflection
Fun Foot Mirror

Explore how curved surfaces reflect light in surprising ways! Incoming light rays on curved surfaces are not reflected back to our eyes in a predictable way. Therefore what we see may look different from what we are accustomed to seeing in flat mirrors.

blue dots seem to swirl on an orange background
Peripheral Drift

Can the pattern in this painting really be moving? It isn’t, but the illusion is caused by a combination of interpretations our brains use to see high-contrast areas beyond what our eyes have focused on.

a painting of two elderly people, in profile, looking at each other, seemingly with a yellow vase between their faces
Forever Always

What surprises can you discover in Octavio Ocampo’s “Forever Always” painting? When you look at the Rubin’s Vase illusion (just below it) do you see a vase or something else? These images are known as cognitive optical illusions because your brain decides, based on what you know and have previously seen, what you primarily see in this image.

a closeup of a 3-D stereogram
3-D Stereogram

When you look at this image in the Museum, can you see the Hindu figure of Ganesha, with an elephant head? You may need to relax your eyes in order to shift your depth perception and notice the picture within the pattern. A stereogram is an illusion of a 3-dimensional image inside a 2-dimensional design.