Abstract: The tools of atomic physics provide a unique and powerful toolbox for studies of quantum many-body physics. Using such systems it has recently become possible to engineer strongly-correlated materials from the ground up and probe them with single-atom resolution. I will describe experiments in which we have synthesized the first magnetic material composed of ultracold atoms, and watched it undergo a quantum phase transition from a paramagnet to an antiferromagnet. I will then introduce a new algorithmic cooling scheme that we have demonstrated, pointing the way to yet more exotic quantum phases that exist at lower temperatures. Finally, I will describe ongoing efforts to develop materials composed of strongly correlated photons whose long-range anisotropic interactions will open new horizons, permitting studies of quantum soft-matter.