READING, Pa. - There's a certain sense of accomplishment when you find your way out of a jam. There's also a lure in getting lost.
"This maze goes on and on. I think we're going the wrong way, but that's OK," said Candice Brown, museum educator at the Reading Public Museum.
We like the confusion. It gets our brains moving. Brown led the way through one of the many mazes you'll find on the museum's third floor. The latest exhibit, Mazes & Brain Games, takes up a bit of floor space.
"I hope that their brain gets turned on a bit more, a bit more lit up," Brown said. "This is the room where everyone comes out kind of a bit more excited, their hearts racing a little faster. I always tells kids, 'leave your jacket at the door.'"
You'll want to jump in with both feet for this one.
The first recorded maze in history takes us back to an Egyptian Labyrinth in the fifth century. Usually, labyrinths are designed to be calming, not confusing, and it's one of the differences between labyrinths and mazes. Labyrinths have one path that leads to the center, whereas mazes have choices, more than one way to get to the end.
There are tactile mazes and mental mazes, Rubik's Cubes, tavern puzzles, optical illusions that deal with perspective, perception, color and light.
Since this is in an art museum, there's maze art on the wall. It's the work of artist David Anson Russo, who designs physical mazes but does it for art sake as well.
"So we don't have to be in a maze to enjoy the confusion of a maze, to enjoy the logic and creativity of a maze," Brown said. "It's very Where's Waldo-esque."
The illusions teach us how our brain works, how we want to say the words that are written, not the colors we see. It's creative, critical thinking in an immersive setting.
"It does help kids understand art in a way, so when you're drawing, how do you trick a person into seeing what you want them to see? So that's where the optical illusions come into play," Brown said.