Metro Weekly

Spotlight: Atlas Obscura offers eclectic and eccentric digital entertainment

Many new experiences stem from the organization's Wonder From Home initiative

atlas obscura

Atlas Obscura: Armen Ra — Photo: Josef Jasso

As the general manager of Atlas Obscura’s Experiences division, Megan Roberts has had a unique hand in making the website and its offerings as eclectic and eccentric and entertaining as they come. Where else, for instance, could you get to know a Stroh violinist, learn about the supernatural cats of Japan, meet a queer community-building soupmaker and chef, learn how to make mead vinegar from honey, and take a “sound bath” with a theremin-playing drag performer?

“It’s a fun rabbit hole to go down,” says Roberts.

Founded in 2009 by Joshua Foer and Dylan Thuras, Atlas Obscura was “built to highlight and celebrate the world’s hidden wonders,” shared through original editorial content, highlights of which have been turned into a bestselling book, a second edition of which was recently released. Roughly eight years ago, Roberts signed on to help bolster that content by helping to oversee the development of events “to actually get our audience out experiencing those incredible places, kind of hidden, untold histories, and obscure but fascinating finds.”

For the time being, in-person experiences have been put on hold, but the company has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by “building from scratch an online experience business.” Among the newer online offerings Roberts singles out is “Atlas Obscura LIVE,” a monthly variety show featuring “different presentations that are built around a theme,” with Games the focus of the next one, set for May 28.

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Many of the new experiences stem from the Brooklyn-based organization’s Wonder From Home initiative, which, says Roberts, was launched “to highlight and support our community [of] incredible experts and artists and small businesses and collectors” while also re-emphasizing a core value, that of “keeping open to a sense of possibility in a time that’s really difficult for everyone.”

Says Roberts, “It’s been really amazing how quickly both our audiences have responded to our online offerings, but also how many of the artists and the experts in the locations that we work with have just really been excited about [the] opportunity to share their story with a global audience as opposed to just the people [in their] location.”

Since the pandemic, the site has also “seen a big increase in the number of submissions from people who…instead of being out in the world exploring, are kind of reminiscing on some of the incredible things that they’ve seen in the past and sharing those with us,” says Roberts. “We are loving getting those submissions. So much of what we do and can offer is really because of our amazing community of contributors.”

To explore the online offerings of Atlas Obscura, visit

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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @ruleonwriting.

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