Sometimes a trip to the museum revolves around a serene sense of cultural enrichment and quietly gazing at the work of masters from antiquity to modernity. Other times you just want to have your friggin’ mind blown. Meow Wolf is an arts and entertainment collective based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, that firmly plants itself in the latter category. If the highbrow art scene rubs your creative sensibilities just a little bit wrong, then Meow Wolf—part art exhibition, part museum, part bizarre-world Disneyland—is the Mecca of your subversive odyssey.
What to expect
“Telaportative fridges, a Flintstones-style mastodon skeleton marimba, impromptu trapeze shows — it’s all commonplace in the House of Eternal Return, a 20,000-square-foot, wormhole-riddled art playhouse from Meow Wolf, the scrappy Santa Fe, New Mexico, art-collective-turned-conglomerate that’s poised to plunge the country into the multiverse, one WTF moment at a time.”
In other words, strap in and get ready for things to get weird. The guidelines are simple: “touch everything. Go anywhere, especially places that seem weird. Be nice. Try not to break anything. And whatever you do, don’t pee in the toilet.”
The artists of Meow Wolf make a concerted effort to push boundaries not just in media and technology, but also thought. Many of the pieces center on challenging norms, encouraging social change and pushing for inclusivity in the social sphere. They embrace weirdness in all sizes, shapes, colors and artistic forms. The group was initially established to offer a venue for artists who couldn’t find a place for their work in the surrounding Santa Fe art scene. These were artists looking to shake things up.
That said, the contributors and organizers also make an effort to establish a family-friendly atmosphere with the inclusion of a children’s learning center near amenities that include a face, bar, and music venue.
Visions of the future
The goal of the collective is to push the boundaries of what engaging with art means without regard to convention, and it features pieces that incorporate traditional media like sculpture, painting, and music performance. But perhaps what’s sparked the substantial attention of the public and one particularly notable donor is the focus on immersive and interactive experiences drawing from different realms of breakthrough media including augmented reality. Taking things quite a step up from your old 3D glasses, Meow Wolf features a number of pieces that heavily incorporate VR and other creative means to transport you into the work.
Aside from taking in an experience of perceptions from another dimension, trips to Meow Wolf help give back to the community through their registered and practiced status as a public benefit corporation. The group initially operated without any outside funding to sponsor artists or their works. The documentary of their founding ruminates over the early days of the entire group living in a single bedroom and scraping by in order to create. On the brink of starvation, the artists found support from none other than “Game of Thrones” creator George R.R. Martin, who purchased a bowling alley to provide a secure venue for the creatives to showcase their work. With a secure space to continue their mission, the group continues to contribute to the surrounding community with proceeds from operations going to local charities and initiatives.