For almost a year, I’ve desperately wanted to visit Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I finally had the opportunity to do so two weeks ago.
Oh Lordy it was better than I could have ever imagined.
I initially wasn’t going to write about my experience at Meow Wolf because I figured everyone and their mother had heard of it by now; however, I discovered that is indeed not the case. Many people still don’t know what this wacky, wonderful art collective is.
A little background: According to their website, Meow Wolf is a Santa Fe-based “arts production company that creates immersive, multimedia experiences that transport audiences of all ages into fantastic realms of storytelling.”
They are known for their 20,000-square-foot permanent art piece, The House of Eternal Return, which opened in March of 2016 and was partially funded by George R.R. Martin, the author of Game of Thrones.
The best way to sum up The House of Eternal Return is that there is no way to sum up The House of Eternal Return.
Think Stranger Things meets Disneyland meets a Twilight Zone episode meets a child’s Benadryl-induced dream.
According to Meow Wolf, the story behind The House of the Eternal Return is: “Something has happened inside a mysterious Victorian house that has dissolved the nature of time and space. Venture through the house of The Selig Family, and discover secret passageways into fantastic dimensions!”
You start the experience by entering a large warehouse, formerly a bowling alley, where a foreboding two-story house resides. Scientists buzz about, and you’re encouraged to enter the house and snoop around. The goal is for you to figure out what happened to the Selig family. Everything is up for grabs: Computers, books, notes on the fridge, an open suitcase on the floor–you are to look through these things. If you have enough time, these tiny artifacts can help you weave a story.
If you don’t have enough time, that’s ok, because you can experience the wonder of the exhibit in the larger clues: the boy swimming at the bottom of the toilet bowl, the dryer and refrigerator that lead to another dimension, the fuzzy creatures, the holograms, the tiny Chinatowns, the ribcage xylophone, the space crafts, the neon trees…the list goes on and on.
The artists behind The House of Eternal Return do not skimp on the presentation. You feel utterly and totally immersed in the world they’ve created. There are no accidents and no janky workmanship. And the twisty-turny world is disorientating; you’re never quite sure if you’ve hit up every nook and cranny.
Meow Wolf is is a fresh voice in the typically high-end and stuffy art world of Santa Fe. The company’s CEO, Santa Fe-native Vince Kadlubek, told Travel + Leisure Magazine that he wanted to see creative inspiration in his beloved city. “If Santa Fe keeps the same old identity, it becomes less and less attractive to a new generation. The demographic that is attracted to it grows older and older, and we just start to see the vibrancy—the actual health and sustainability—of the city that I grew up in and love start to come into question.”
And rumor on the street is that Meow Wolf is coming to Austin next.
Tickets for The House of Eternal Return are $18 for non-New Mexico residents and $15 for New Mexico residents. For kids, tickets are $12 and $10, and senior tickets are $16 and $13.
I’m a lover of Santa Fe and New Mexico in general. I visit the state multiple times a year, and I’m thrilled to see young blood on the scene. I HIGHLY recommend checking out Meow Wolf and all the other great attributes New Mexico has. (Read my love letter to the Land of Enchantment.)
If you find yourself in Santa Fe for a few days, check out these other spots:
–Plaza Cafe (venerable Santa Fe eatery in the Plaza)
–Cowgirl (fun centrally-located bar & restaurant with great live music)
–Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (even if you’re not a fan of the artist, this museum will make you one)
–Southwest Connection (where I always buy my turquoise in SF; great deals and nice owners)
–Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (a beautiful hike located between Santa Fe and Albuquerque)
–Bandelier National Monument (hikes with incredible NM views and access to ancient Native pueblos; located near Los Alamos where the Manhattan Project was created)