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NYC museumgoers descend 3-story slide, float in pool (swimsuit optional)

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - "Museum visit" takes on a whole new meaning at the New Museum in New York, where visitors can ride a three-story slide that winds through the building or jump into a salty pool — in the buff — for an out-of-body experience.

The "Experience" exhibit features the creations of German artist Carsten Holler. It opened Wednesday and runs through Jan. 15, allowing visitors to explore different sensations through Holler's odd interactive works of art.

The exhibit may be a first for museumgoers and for a museum. Visitors are asked to sign a waiver and are given helmets and elbow pads for the slide.

Slides are Holler's signature installations, and the 102-foot (30-meter) chute at the New Museum is the only one he has created that cuts through a building's interior.

The slide is "a non-surprising environment, completely predictable," Holler says. "Yet when you put yourself in it, you have to let go, losing control. You have no means of mastering the situation.

"I'm proposing to look at the world, at what other experiences you can have, how you can experience your whole outside environment outside your body," Holler says.

At a Tuesday preview, squeals and laughter came from visitors shooting out of the slide.

"Viewing the third and second floors while descending past in a slide was perhaps the most innovative way I have ever experienced an art exhibit," said Leslie Grandy, a human resources professional from Diamond Bar, California.

Other playful pieces in the exhibit include a giant foam dolphin and hippopotamus; monumental, brightly painted mushroom sculptures; and a slowly turning Mirror Carousel with flashing lights.

Six people can fit in the 2-foot (0.6-meter) "Psycho Tank." The pool sits off the ground in a tent-like structure, affording privacy. Visitors are handed spa-like bathrobes, slippers and towels before disrobing or donning their own bathing suits.

Roni Weiss, 28, a social media consultant from Harlem, got into the pool with three other people.

"For me, it was more the naked thing than floating," Weiss said. "It was interesting to have conversations with other naked people."

The entire exhibit can be experienced through upside-down goggles. But be forewarned: It can be dizzying.

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Online: www.newmuseum.org

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