A Day-Glo ball pit. A rainbow cave with disorienting mirrors. Trippy light displays. And a menu of creatively flavored popcorns and mac-and-cheese dishes.
The description of Hopscotch, an award-winning art installation that opened this month in Portland, sounds like it either caters to families with children or high-as-a-kite adults. Truth is, both will be clamoring for tickets as well as plenty of demographics in between, because the experience that comes to the Rose City via Texas is simply downright fun.
The venue opened June 9 inside a former Orchards Supply Hardware tucked into the Goat Blocks at 1020 SE 10th Ave. And the founders of this project took full advantage of the 23,000-square-foot space, which has 14 interactive galleries located inside. It takes about 90 minutes to explore all of them.
Hopscotch began as a pop-up by Nicole Jensen and Hunter Inman at SXSW in 2019. After gaining recognition as a vehicle that brings together artists working in wildly different disciplines, the two opened their first permanent location in San Antonio the following year. Once again, artists and visitors alike raved about their positive experiences, which led Jensen and Inman to seek out a second site elsewhere in the country. Portland’s art-friendly ethos, inclusive nature and progressive-leaning ideology ultimately led them to open the next Hopscotch here.
“Hopscotch is committed to empowering local artists by showcasing their work in sustainable and creative ways, and helping them reach new audiences,” Inman stated in a press release. “Portland’s art scene plays an important role in defining the unique and spirited culture of this city, and we are so grateful to now be a part of it.”
More than 50 artists who hail from around the globe have works in the opening edition of Hopscotch. But before you get to those displays, you enter through a lounge that looks like what movie directors thought the 2000s would look like in the 1980s—which isn’t a knock. The ceiling and walls are illuminated by evenly spaced skinny cylinders in electric colors that constantly change and blink, setting the mood for the rest of the experience.
Here, you will find the first bar, which serves eight cocktails and four non-alcoholic mixed drinks as well as beer, cider and wine. The food menu was developed by local Top Chef contestant Sara Hauman, which is as playful as the art to come. Dishes are divided into four sections: mac and cheese, waffles, popcorn and ice cream. You can expect a wide variety of flavors—from a kimchi and gochujang pasta to a falafel waffle topped in green herb yogurt and feta to popped kernels with wasabi peas. And unlike most museums or galleries, you’re allowed to take your food and beverage with you along your journey.
From there, Hopscotch is something of a choose-your-own adventure. You can wander from room to room, all with different names. There’s Walls Within, a mural exhibition created in partnership with Portland Street Alliance; Chromesthesia, where people can experience the terror of being shut into a red-lit room or the eeriness of standing in another bathed in blue; and Diodic Daydream, which features 40,000 light-emitting diodes that flash so quickly and in mesmerizing patterns, you’ll feel like you’re on a Disney ride. There is also the aforementioned ball pit and Rainbow Cave—an installation made with salvaged plastic bags and fishing nets.
Opening weekend was sold out, and it likely won’t be the only time you’ll have difficulty snagging a ticket. Admission can be purchased in advance, online, and prices range from $15 for children to $24 for adults. Each ticket includes a specific time of entry to keep the place from overcrowding.
Hopscotch is open noon to 10 pm Thursday through Sunday, with adults-only hours from 6 to 10 pm.