Home Exhibitions

Smoke and Mirrors: The Psychology of Magic

  • Free
  • Exhibition
Photograph of a visitor exploring the exhibition, Smoke and Mirrors at Wellcome Collection. Photograph shows a women in the background looking at an object in a display case. In the foreground is a large colourful poster showing a man in a Victorian swimming costume suspended upside down in a tank of water.
Smoke and Mirrors exhibition - Houdini's Water-Filled-Torture poster, Museums Sheffield, Thomas SG Farnetti. Source: Wellcome Collection. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0).

You won’t believe your eyes.

The Times

What can magic and conjuring tell us about the human mind? Our exhibition brings together the worlds of psychology and entertainment in search of the truth about deception.

Explore how our biases affect our perception and whether our senses can be hacked. Discover spirit photography, magic props and psychology experiments to see how magic works on – and in – the mind of the spectator.

Artefacts on display from the world of magic include the head of the gorilla costume worn by Derren Brown, Harry Houdini’s ‘Bell Box’, Tommy Cooper’s fez, and Paul Daniels’s sawing-in-half box.

Six times per week you can enjoy performances in the gallery explaining the psychology behind the magic. The gallery will be busy during these performances.

In this exhibition