The internet is riddled with rants about the slow death of “authentic” New York. Based on the line folded three tiers deep on a recent night in lower Manhattan outside of the Glade®-sponsored Museum of Feelings, no one is all that worried about it.
Housed in a pulsating cube nestled between a luxury mall and a yacht harbor (just blocks from noted tourist attraction Ground Zero), this paean to…what, really?… is a confusing mix of ambient advertising and immersive art. It’s also an excellent destination for those looking to test the capabilities of the new Pax 2.
The cube’s exterior changes color based on the mood of New York City, which (according to a press release put out by Glade® parent company SC Johnson) is determined by “the sentiment of conversations by New Yorkers on Twitter, coupled with local news and trends including the weather, stock exchange fluctuations and flight delays”. Evidently rage stroke coupled with crippling panic attack is a vibrant teal that undulates into fuschia.
Inside, the space is split into five distinct spaces, each intended to evoke a particular (Glade®-produced!) scented candle mood — optimistic, joyful, invigorated, exhilarated, and calm. Classic NYC vibes, all. At the entrance, a sign encourages attendees to “twist your inner muse to ’on’.”
The first zone, Optimistic, features two triangular pillars with holographic tops that flank a larger pillar with a spinning prism (housed in another prismatic dome) perched atop, while scented fog gradually seeped into the room. Everyone was given a hologram card to activate ambient noise and light but it didn’t seem to change anything (probably insufficiently twisted muses). Honestly, this room just felt incomplete without David Bowie slinking out from the mirrored corners in a leotard.
With its mirrored walls, floors, and ceilings, and hundreds of green LED tendrils dripping from the ceiling, the “virtual forest” in the second zone (Joyful) was kind of nuts even without the 3D glasses that visitors were handed at the room’s entrance. Other, much less poised visitors may or may not have apologized to their own reflections twice. Ramping it up in the scent department, giant green diodes (scent lanterns) pulsed out Glade® Balsam & Fir Limited Edition Winter Collection fragrance at a steady clip. You can recreate this effect at home by crafting a chandelier out of taxi air freshener trees (or just buy the candle).
The olfactory volume was turned down a notch in the next zone, Invigorated, where motion sensors caused neon halos to pool around feet (and backpacks) on the floor. Those with a perpetual case of the Mondays may want to look into this fragrance—visitors in this room were breaking out backflips and serious dance moves.
On entering the Exhilarated zone, the employee manning this room indicated that the scent there was Blooming Peony & CherryTM. Coupled with the (very cool) kaleidoscopic combination of interactive video and mirrors, the inescapable scentscape was growing increasingly overwhelming. Think Black Mirror meets early 2000s Haruki Murakami but with an intense floral faceblast.
Glade® saved the best for last with the Calm zone, a small round room that was rapidly flooded with a heavy fog of Glade® Lavender & Vanilla. Once the very soothing haze settled a bit, one had the opportunity to squint meditatively upon a glowing caviar-like wall installation while soaking up more ambient sounds. A quick perusal of Instagram (#feelglade) indicates that the fog was forming a cloud earlier in the day so the tsunami of relaxing scent may have been a one-off.
The final chamber (though not technically a zone) was the Retail Lounge, which featured interactive scent tables and a row of MoodLens photo kiosks, which snap and then modify one’s photo according to one’s mood (as detected by a palm sensor). These images had the unfortunate effect of turning the subject’s eyes into vacant all-black orbs (for the elderly: think that guy from Limp Bizkit). These could be shared or printed out—the latter was, naturally, scented.
Where the rest of the Museum of Feelings attempted to suppress its corporate roots, the Retail Lounge leaned in to its promotional provenance with a glossy white boutique in which to purchase beautifully packaged Glade® candles according to your emotional profile (or preference). With their white embossed boxes, lack of visible Glade branding, and bright colored wax, these particular candles were Instagram-ready and frankly pretty good-looking. Three people bought one in the space of six minutes, clearly unaware that their candles were built on a foundation of lies.
A quick skim of the internet revealed that the $9.00 Invigorated candle in its Kinfolk style embossed white box is available by its humbler given name, Glade® Blue OdysseyTM for just $2.99 at Target. Sadly, the gussied-up (or down, in this case) versions of the supermarket brand are only available for the Museum of Feelings event so you can’t get your mitts on the sleek stocking stuffers unless you attend. In stores, you’ll still find the familiar Glade® products. Maybe try taking the sticker off?
The Museum of Feelings is open Mon-Sat, 11 AM to 9 PM and Sundays from 11 AM to 7 PM through December 15.