WNDR Museum is Chicago’s Gift to San Diego



Fabian Garcia, Senior Staff Writer

San Diego’s newest attraction, The WNDR Museum, is a part-time art installation full-time interactive journey blending innovative artistry and cutting-edge technology to bring the San Diego community one of the most unforgettable experiences the city has yet to see. 

The UCSD Guardian had the opportunity to not only get a first-hand look at some of the attractions that will be available on the opening day, but also speak with some of the creative minds driving the idea of what WNDR truly means to San Diego. With that said, answering the question of what WNDR is at its core is a task easier said than done.

Under the fluorescent lights of The Guild Hotel, and after a four-course meal prepared by Cordon Bleu chefs, it quickly became apparent that WNDR is multifaceted. 

To understand what exactly it is, it’s equally important to know what it isn’t. WNDR is not just an art museum or an ornate concept. WNDR is not an attempt at tantalizing art elitists or Instagram influencers, nor is it a gimmick or tourist trap. 

WNDR is the blending of artistic attraction and technological prowess in order to create an extraordinary interactive experience; striving to break all known conventions of art and serve that medium to the public in unique ways. WNDR captures the spirit of that childlike amusement one can only feel during the peak of juvenescence.

Creative Director David Allen is known more for his creative artistry than for his work as  a museum curator. However, his background as a tattoo artist was instrumental to his involvement with WNDR. Tattoos are the pinnacle of interactive artwork, as they live on the skin for eternity. Those core sensibilities have been applied to curate several interactive pieces for the WNDR Museum. In Allen’s own words, “curiosity allows creativity” — which is seemingly one of many mantras for WNDR. 

The Guardian had the chance to take a peek at four exhibits — a mere fraction of the twenty-something exhibits planned for the museum’s grand opening: The “Quantum Mirror” created by Adrian Stein; “Inside Out” by Leigh Satchwitz +flora&faunavisions; A VR Exhibit by digital artist Oseanworld inspired by the WNDR collection of contemporary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama; and an exhibit displaying works by legendary New York artist Keith Haring. 

To many, WNDR Museum represents the coalescence of two cities; Chicago’s rich artistic and cultural scene mirror that of San Diego’s community in many ways. 

“Culturally this is an important time,” WNDR creator Brad Keywell said. “We have the opportunity to really begin what’s next, to bring some pride to the community and some pride of artistry to downtown and across the country, starting right here.”

In a similar vein, WNDR president Ryan Kunkel also commented on how San Diego was the ideal first stop for WNDR’s ongoing cross-country tour. He mentioned the area’s deep cultural importance and untapped potential, which, unlike a pop-up shop or any normal installation, can permanently become part of that cultural importance right on Market Street. 

With plans to expand into Boston and Seattle, WNDR is the love letter to San Diego we didn’t know we needed. 

WNDR San Diego opens to the public on Jan. 11. Tickets are on sale now.

Image courtesy of Ken Schluchtmann