Step foot into the Meow Wolf entertainment complex, and it feels as though you’ve been transported to the plot of a science-fiction novel. That’s the goal at this wildly popular Santa Fe-based art collective, which is eyeing expansion and has ties to “Game of Thrones”.
More than 130 artists came together to build the space, which has been blowing visitors away with its creativity and mysteriousness since it opened in 2016. In all, there are 70 different immersive spaces that make up the Meow Wolf entertainment complex, which took over an abandoned bowling alley. A multi-sensory experience, the spaces are meant to transport visitors into another dimension and spark curiosity. “The House of Eternal Return” is the main draw. The permanent, interactive taunts visitors with a storyline about a family that’s disappeared.
History and Background
Meow Wolf was established in 2008 as an art collective made up of nearly 200 artists. At the collective’s first meeting, everyone was tasked with putting two random words into a hat. “Meow” and “Wolf” were drawn, which is how the quirky name came about. The artist collective spans several disciplines, including architecture, painting, audio engineering, photography and virtual and augmented reality.
The project garnered support from “Game of Thrones” creator and longtime Santa Fe resident George R.R. Martin, who purchased the property in 2014 and helped fund renovations to bring the old bowling back up to up to code. Meow Wolf also raised money on Kickstarter.
Today, Meow Wolf has expanded into a full-on production company, weaving visitors through a multi-sensory fantasyland where they’re tasked with solving mysteries while admiring and interacting with rad art. (Think: Bones that light up and play music when you tap them). Really, there’s no museum like this place, which could be described as a haunted house (but with minimal scare factor!). Or a playground for the imagination. Or, simply immersive art exhibit.
What to Do
At the “House of Eternal Return,” visitors are invited to investigate the mystery of how a family disappeared, leaving their Victorian mansion abandoned. It’s A-OK to look through their mail and open up their appliances, which lead you into other dimensions via portals. A hint provided by Meow Wolf: the family was performing a “forbidden experiment” inside their home prior to vanishing. The house is a 20,000 square-foot exhibit filled with artwork and designed by artists from the Meow Wolf collective.
Meow Wolf also hosts concerts in its music venue. The complex has an arcade with 14 games and there are four artistic tree houses to climb around in and explore.
Meow Wolf also has a gift shop with apparel and other goods made by artists, including coloring books, T-shirts and robot pins.
How to Visit
Santa Fe is home to dozens of museums and galleries, including the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and the famed Canyon Road. Meow Wolf is a relative newcomer to the scene and visitors will want to set aside at least two hours to immerse themselves in this psychedelic funhouse.
Meow Wolf is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It’s closed on Tuesdays. The House of Eternal Return can get crowded on the weekends, and may require a wait time.
Tickets range in price, and there are discounts available for residents of New Mexico. Admission for children under age 3 is free, and individual annual passes are also available.
Expanding to Las Vegas and Denver
Meow Wolf recently announced it will be opening up two new locations.
The first will debut in 2019 in Las Vegas at Area 15, a complex that will bring together art, nightlife, events, and restaurants. Meow Wolf will open a 50,000-square-foot space in the complex.
Meow Wolf also announced it will be expanding in Denver, with a new entertainment complex set to open in 2020. (Construction is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2018, though). The Denver space will differ from Santa Fe, through immersive art will remain at the heart of the project. The Meow Wolf Denver outpost will be on Colfax Street, near Interstate-25. With five stories and 90,000 square feet, it will be almost three times larger than the Santa Fe location. In addition to art, Denver’s Meow Wolf will get a music venue, bar, and a cafe, as well as office space.