Psychedelic funhouse draws thousands to Santa Fe

Meow Wolf in Santa Fe

Aside from the giant wolf in the parking lot - and the giant robot and the giant spider - there's little to prepare you for what's inside Meow Wolf. There's a ticket counter and a gift shop. At first blush, this could be any busy museum or science center. But once you walk into the orientation room, it starts to set in: Beyond that doorway an alternate reality awaits.

Meow Wolf is 35,000-square-foot art installation built inside what was once an old bowling alley. It's a place where young and old alike are encouraged to touch, feel and play their way through what can only be described as a technicolor labyrinth.

"This project is the culmination of nine years of our lives," said Vince Kadlubek, the CEO of Meow Wolf and a founding member of the art collective that came up with the idea behind this remarkable place. "It's like, this is storytelling, this is me going inside of a movie."

Kadlubek said the collective spent the past several years creating installations all over Santa Fe. But then they wanted to make something permanent. Something grand. And this space spoke to them.

"This is sort of the leaping off point for us," he said. "This is the first like real, permanent Meow Wolf installation that we've created."

Meow Wolf was able to get financial backing from George R.R. Martin, the author of "Game of Thrones. "

"Being a sci-fi fan, and being a Santa Fe resident and being a really cool guy, he said, 'Yeah let's do this. Let's make it happen,'" Kadlubek said.

The artists at Meow Wolf created an exhibit that features brilliant colors and explosions of light. But the portal to this alternate universe is a Victorian house. There are secret passageways built into the fireplace and fridge. And in the house, a mystery afoot.

According to the narrative, the family who lived in this house disappeared. And you're trying to figure out why. There are clues scattered all over the house. Or you could simply enjoy the environment. That's the beauty behind Meow Wolf.

"This is truly an experience for all ages," Kadlubek said. "You get to grow into new layers. Like, if I'm a 6-year-old, I get to experience it as a playground. But then as I grow up, I'm going to start to experience it in a completely different way."

The space can also be transformed into a music venue. Every week, Meow Wolf is home to intimate concerts.

And now Meow Wolf is looking to expand. It recently celebrated its one-year anniversary and it's already attracted more than 400,000 visitors. So Meow Wolf is ready to go nationwide.

"Can we become a billion-dollar company while also maintaining the fact that we're an art collective?" Kadlubek said. "So that's the challenge that we're up against and that's what we're really excited to see if we can make it happen."

So what was once just a small group of like-minded friends has evolved into a profitable, celebrated company, with a product that no one had ever thought to create.

"That to us is probably the No. 1 thing, that we're giving people the chance to explore, to discover to be curious to be inquisitive and do that all within having fun," Kadlubek said.

Mon, Wed, Thurs, Sun 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (closed every Tuesday)
Fri, Sat 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.

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