Steve Kopelman has 40 years of experience creating haunted houses and escape rooms, including serving as principal and COO of national chain Escape the Room. Now, he’s using that experience to create a “technology-fueled experiential art museum” in west Houston called Seismique.
Opening this fall, Seismique will feature more than 40 rooms — or “galaxies,” to go with the extra-terrestrial theme — incorporating artificial intelligence, immersive experiences, gamification, and displays of light, color and sound.
Seismique’s space, a former Bed Bath & Beyond at 2306 S. Highway 6, is 40,000 square feet inside, with minimal columns, 20-foot ceilings and a second floor with an elevator. All those factors made the space, located inside a strip mall, appealing to Kopelman. Most of all, however, was the large available parking lot. Kopelman estimates that he’ll see 250,000 to 500,000 people in the business’s first year. They’ll need the parking, he said.
“Houston has a huge population base. It’s international; it’s got high culture, lots of different arts and entertainment,” Kopelman said. “Given the success of these escape rooms, I have zero doubt that the market really wants something immersive that’s built for and made for all ages to enjoy together. I think we’re going to deliver something that’s going to hit the mark there.”
Unlike other interactive, Instagrammable experiences like Movietopia and Candytopia, which were pop-ups, Seismique has signed a 10-year lease. Individual rooms will be changed out over time, but the overall concept will stay put.
With this alien- and science fiction-themed museum, Kopelman aims to incorporate education, particularly the sciences, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. He’s reaching out to partner with local educators, covering all grade levels. He wants to create a summer camp eventually.
Kopelman also plans to reserve a quarter of the 40 rooms for local artists to create their own works.
Tickets will be under $30 and will pay for an all-day pass. There will also be a café that serves small plates.
“I think if you come in with cool content that’s more than just Instagram-friendly you can get multiple visits,” Kopelman said.
Early in his career, Kopelman considered working with virtual-reality and mixed-reality projects, but they lacked a social element or interactivity he was looking for. He said while his generation might be more attracted to material possessions, younger generations are more attracted to experiences.
“Gen Z and Millennials strive to experience something, whether it’s a sunrise at Machu Picchu, or a great, artistic fun thing to do,” Kopelman said.