Meow Wolf is the name of an art organization and colorful art space in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This large contemporary art venue, whose odd name came from two randomly drawn words, is primarily known for its permanent installation called House of Eternal Return. This interactive fun house is a mixture between something you can see and something you can touch. Several visitors and reviewers have compared House of Eternal Return to a psychedelic contemporary art version of what Alice finds when she goes down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. To someone who has never been there or seen any pictures, Alice in Wonderland is one of the only ways to explain this strange museum in the American Southwest.
From the moment visitors arrive, they are greeted by fantastic sculptures in the parking lot. A large robot sculpture, a spider sculpture, and others give life to what is usually the most mundane area of a museum. The building itself was previously a bowling alley, but was converted into its current state thanks to a donation by noted author George R.R. Martin. Martin, known for his series A Song of Ice and Fire (adapted for television as HBO’S A Game of Thrones) is a resident of Santa Fe and supporter of its art scene. Meow Wolf had existed since 2008; however, with Martin’s assistance, the organization opened its permanent location and surreal funhouse in 2016.
The different rooms inside vary in style. One particularly interesting one, both visually and thematically, is the Cartoon Room. This monochrome colored room was designed by artist Dylan Pommer and transports visitors into the world of classic 1920s cartoons. Colored entirely in black and white, the surreal Cartoon Room art installation makes you feel as though you’re a part of the early days of animation. This places you in an interesting setting where you not only feel like you’re looking at artwork, but also existing inside it as well. 1920s cartoons were strange, experimental and often bizarre; Dylan Pommer captures that animated world from nearly 100 years ago perfectly, thus adding to the experience of Meow Wolf.
Although the art and design of the House of Eternal Return is fun to simply admire and look at, there is so much more to do as well. Everyday household objects, such as a refrigerator, drier and fireplace, can be entered as used as “wormholes” to new locations within the building. This strange funhouse is not only a place for interactive experiences and creative contemporary artwork, but also tells a story about a missing family. Pay attention to your surroundings and try to solve the mystery.
In addition to the House of Eternal Return, Meow Wolf is also a popular live music and event venue featuring musical artists ranging from alternative and indie bands to EDM DJs. A few examples of events hosted there include Chess as Life – a chess class, Toddler Tales – a weekly free event for toddlers to learn and play, and Art as Self Care – an art therapy class. Overall, Meow Wolf is a multipurpose space committed to supporting art, music and its community.
Although it is the original one, Santa Fe is not the only location to see Meow Wolf. A Las Vegas, Nevada, location will open in 2019 and a Denver, Colorado one in 2020. Presumably, more locations will be announced in the future as well. There is also a traveling exhibit that museums can rent to bring a smaller, but still exciting, version of Meow Wolf to them. In this way, Meow Wolf has become its own museum brand as well. Much like MoMA and other museums have multiple locations, so does Meow Wolf.
Ultimately, Meow Wolf is a sensory experience unlike anything else. The Santa Fe-based art complex takes the concept of a contemporary art installation or museum and figuratively turns it completely upside down. As you walk through the House of Eternal Return, prepare to not only see creative artwork, but also touch and interact with it as well! Meow Wolf truly is a sensory experience. It will be fascinating to watch Meow Wolf grow in both Santa Fe and across the country in the coming years!