Meow Wolf creates immersive, interactive experiences to transport audiences of all ages into fantastic realms of story and exploration. They are an arts collective that have become one of the biggest creative brands on the planet in just 7-years since opening their first permanent venue House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe.
The company has attracted and utilises creative talent across many disciplines including architecture, sculpture, painting, photography and video production, virtual and augmented reality, music and audio engineering, narrative writing, costuming and performance, and more. House of Eternal Return is located in a disused bowling alley and opened in March 2016 with support from Game Of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin. Gguests discover a 20,000 square foot multidimensional mystery house with secret passages, portals to magical worlds, climbing apparatus, and surreal, maximalist and mesmerising art exhibits along with a children’s learning centre and cafe area.
It attracted around 500,000 visitors in its first year; but it turns out they were only just getting started. The success of House of Eternal Return allowed them to raise USD $150 million for expansion. The operation now has more than 1,000 employees and has opened new sites in Las Vegas (Omega Mart, 2021) and Denver (Convergence Station, 2021) and despite the global pandemic both venues exceeded 1 million visitors in their first year.
Meow Wolf as they are a good example of how immersive art and entertainment has the potential to disrupt the cultural sector and indicates a significant shift in audience tastes towards experiential art forms.
Opened in Feb 2021, Omega Mart is the second permanent Meow Wolf location. It is open from 10am to Midnight every day (these are long opening hours versus most cultural institutions). It costs USD $45 for an Adult Ticket (as opposed to $35 for the original venue). Meow Wolf is a narrative driven experience and story is centred around a shadowy mega corporation, Dramcorp. The creative Director describes it as the Church of Scientology crossed with Amazon.
‘Convergence Station’ in Denver is the third Meow Wolf location. The $60 million complex opened in Sept 2021 as part of a drive to regenerate DownTown area of the city. It is crammed in between a freeway crossover and is a creative use of a redundant space. It is a 90,000-square-foot building with 60,000 square feet of exhibitions (three times the size of the original House of Eternal Return attraction) and also includes restaurant, bar and retail. The site features the work of 120 local artists.
Meow Wolf has just announced two new sites in Texas (Houston and Grapevine). The Grapevine project is in a shopping mall that is seeking to use immersive entertainment to reinvent its offer (a trend that is likely to be repeated elsewhere around the globe as retail struggles in the face of rising ecommerce sales and changes to CBD usage due to increased home). Each location expects to brings in 750,000 visitors annually (takes them up to 4 million per annum annually so albeit over multiple sites they have become one of the biggest and most successful art brands in the world. The sites are being part funded through a partnership with commercial real estate developer (Meow Wolf’s principal investor is also a real estate company).