Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return Attraction

By Eileen Richardson

“Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is an attraction that you can explore filled with art, technology, and fantastic environments to inspire visitors of all ages. This imaginative space is a collaboration of over 100 local artists and is a unique combination of children’s museum, art gallery, jungle gym, and fantasy novel.”

This is the description you will find on their website. But if you ask those who have been to this attraction you may hear “Wild” “Crazy” “Never Ending Fun” “You just can’t’ appreciate it in one visit” “You see something new each time you return” And this last quote may be true because at times the attraction is closed to update and add clues and new components.

These comments are people’s reactions to their visit. But you would probably have something else to say as well. The reason is this attraction is an interactive opportunity including climbing into secret spaces, walking through beautiful fantasy worlds, and experiencing artistic sights and sounds you have never heard or seen before. Truly a one of a kind experience you must see and experience when you visit Santa Fe.
Besides just taking in the sights and sounds there is a mystery here to be solved. (See more details later in this article)

Meow Wolf is an arts production company that creates multimedia experiences that take audiences of all ages into amazing realms of storytelling.

Meow Wolf was formed in February 2008 by "a group of young residents hoping to supply Santa Fe with an alternative arts and music venue" The group originally leased commercial spaces to hold gallery shows and music event, but switched to a decentralized model in 2010.

Some of the more notable Santa Fe-based installations from the group include "Biome Neuro Norb" (2008) a Sci-Fi inspired installation, "Auto Wolf" (2009) an installation centered around the destruction and reuse of a donated car, "The Moon is to Live On", a multimedia theatrical play, "Geodecadent I" and "Geodecadent II" (both 2010) a series of installations based on geodesic domes, "The Due Return" (2011) an installation consisting of a 70-foot long ship with two levels, and filled with rooms and objects suggesting details of implied fictional inhabitant's lives.

In 2011, Meow Wolf formed CHIMERA, a program focused on arts-education. In 2012 Chimera worked with nearly a thousand Santa Fe students to create "Omega Mart", a collaborative art installation in the form of a fictitious grocery store stocked with hand-made fake goods. "Omega Mart" was deliberately placed away from Santa Fe's arts district to attract a more diverse audience. In 2013 Chimera began working with the Albuquerque Museum's classroom mentorship program for gifted students to create another installation named "Project Dreamscape".

Since 2011 Meow Wolf has built shows outside of Santa Fe, as well. "Glitteropolis" (2011), at the New Mexico State University Art Gallery, used 50 pounds of glitter for the installation. "Nucleotide" (2013) was a drippy pastel cave-like installation built by Meow Wolf artists in Chicago at the Thomas Robertello Gallery. Some of the more notable Santa Fe-based installations from the group include "Biome Neuro Norb" (2008) a Sci-Fi inspired installation, "Auto Wolf" (2009) an installation centered around the destruction and reuse of a donated car, "The Moon is to Live On", a multimedia theatrical play, "Geodecadent I" and "Geodecadent II" (both 2010) a series of installations based on geodesic domes, "The Due Return" (2011) an installation consisting of a 70-foot long ship with two levels, and filled with rooms and objects suggesting details of implied fictional inhabitant's lives.

In 2011, Meow Wolf formed CHIMERA, a program focused on arts-education. In 2012 Chimera worked with nearly a thousand Santa Fe students to create "Omega Mart", a collaborative art installation in the form of a fictitious grocery store stocked with hand-made fake goods. "Omega Mart" was deliberately placed away from Santa Fe's arts district to attract a more diverse audience. In 2013 Chimera began working with the Albuquerque Museum's classroom mentorship program for gifted students to create another installation named "Project Dreamscape".

Since 2011 Meow Wolf has built shows outside of Santa Fe, as well. "Glitteropolis" (2011), at the New Mexico State University Art Gallery, used 50 pounds of glitter for the installation. "Nucleotide" (2013) was a drippy pastel cave-like installation built by Meow Wolf artists in Chicago at the Thomas Robertello Gallery. The majority of "Nucleotide" was conceived and built in Chicago over a 3-month period by 18 members of the collective. of "Nucleotide" was conceived and built in Chicago over a 3-month period by 18 members of the collective.

In January 2015, author George R. R. Martin pledged $2.7 million to lease a vacant bowling alley to create a permanent facility for the group. This was supplemented by additional funding, including $50,000 from the city of Santa Fe and $100,000 from a crowd-funding campaign. The Meow Wolf art complex opened March 17, 2016. Its main exhibit is "The House of Eternal Return", and the facility includes a makerspace and a children's area.

Besides being entertaining there is a true mystery you can solve about the characters in this fantasy family who used to inhabit the house you begin walking into as you enter.

You enter the attraction and see a cozy Victorian house. You could peek in the windows, or just go through the front door, it’s open.

But here’s a tip for those of you who want to figure out this mystery: Take a minute to read some of the postcards and letters in the mailbox. It will help you understand. There has been a death in the family and the way the Seligs reacted to it has set off a strange series of events.

Once you enter the house, be curious. Don’t be shy and keep an open mind because most things aren’t what they seem.

If you happen to see someone step out of the refrigerator, don’t be too surprised. And don’t hesitate to take that path yourself. Opening doors (or large appliances) in this house can lead to all types of adventures.
The refrigerator could be a portal to an interdimensional travel agency. Crawl through a fireplace and you could find yourself in an aquarium. You might even find a surprise if you take a look in an upstairs toilet.

Vince Kadlubek, one of the founding members of Meow Wolf, summed it up this way.

“The House of Eternal Return is an opportunity to step inside of a science-fiction novel and experience the story through immersive and interactive art,” he said. “It’s something that encourages discovery and encourages exploration. It gives the audience a chance to be surprised.”

It took more than 200 people to construct the House of Eternal Return.

In addition to artists and other creative types who developed more than 200 hours of narrative content, they had to enlist architects and designers to help convert the 20,000 square feet of space into the house. There also were engineers, electricians, carpenters and others who helped bring the ideas to life and volunteers who did things like cleaning and painting.

In addition to the big pieces, such as rooms, furniture and futuristic dinosaur-skeleton-size musical instruments, there are smaller pieces that hold clues for those trying to figure out the Seligs’ story.
Artists spent countless hours developing magazine articles, postcards, diary entries and computer posts designed to advance the narrative of the House of Eternal Return. Visitors are encouraged to take time to read the materials left on tabletops and dressers or in the working computers or television screens in the home. Those details are part of what makes the exhibit intriguing for entire families.

Young children find the spaces to climb and hide in and the surreal areas of the house fascinating. Older children and adults can delve into the mystery of the Selig family and try to figure it out.

There are so many things to see and do that it’s hard to absorb it all in a single visit.

“The first experience a lot of people have is shock and awe because there is so much to take in,” Clavio said. “The exhibition isn’t easy to communicate through words or photographs or even video. You really have to experience it.”

And that experience is designed to change periodically. The exhibition can be closed for a few weeks so the creators can add new content. So be sure to check the website www.meowwolf.com to avoid a closed attraction when you come to visit.

The last thing I will add is if you can find out why “Meow Wolf” was the name chosen for this organization, would you let us know. I could not find out the answer.

I hope you on your own, or with your family, come visit Santa Fe with a morning or afternoon spent at the “City Different’s “Attraction Different”- Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return.