Imagine walking into a Victorian-style house filled with average home essentials: couches, fish tanks, newspapers on the breakfast table. There’s one major difference between this home and a regular one: It has portals that lead into other worlds. Fireplaces, washing machines and refrigerators act as entries into psychedelic neon glowing gardens, spaceships and cave-like dwellings.
This Immersive Art Museum is Backed by 'Game of Thrones' Author George R.R. Martin
With over $158 million invested, Meow Wolf’s reach is large
It is the House of Eternal Return, and it’s an experiential art installation in Santa Fe, New Mexico, created by Meow Wolf—a collective of artists who have grown their passion for the bizarre into a multimillion-dollar business.
Meow Wolf was founded by six members, and chief executive Vince Kadlubek has helped lead the collective from hosting parties that would get shut down by the cops to becoming a start-up that is on the path to building 15 more locations similar to the House of Eternal Return in the next five years.
In a recent interview with The New York Times Magazine, Kadlubek admits to his own lack of artistic ability and says he always wanted to be surrounded by artists. Since high school, he’s had a passion for creating pitch decks and selling his ambitious ideas to anyone who would listen.
The success of Meow Wolf’s first location—the House—came over a year after the grueling and exhausting work necessary to make the space truly unique.
One of the first investors was Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, and Kadlubek, along with co-founder Sean Di Ianni, attended a pitch competition in Albuquerque in 2014 where they received $25,000 to begin development on the House.
According to the Times, by opening day in 2016, Meow Wolf had less than $1,000 in its bank account—but the work paid off. Within the first three months of opening, 125,000 people came through the House of Eternal Return. Lines were out the door, with visitors waiting for hours to peek inside. Meow Wolf made three times more than what it predicted for its first year. Ticket prices for entry range from $17 to $29, and annual family passes go for $300.
The space has gained celebrity attention, such as from R&B artist T-Pain, who filmed the music video for his song “A Million Times” inside the House of Eternal Return earlier this year.
“My wife sent me an advertisement for Meow Wolf, and it just blew my mind. I mean it was just something so different, something I’d really love for my house to look like, ” T-Pain said in an interview with the collective.
Singer Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips has also collaborated with the space, installing an art piece titled “The King’s Mouth” last year.
Fast-forward to 2019, and Meow Wolf has grown exponentially. Its most recent success, according to Albuquerque Business First, is raising more than $158 million in investments for its future ventures. These funds will first go toward opening Area15 in Las Vegas, which, similar to its Santa Fe location, will host events. If last year’s crowd of 1 million visitors to the House is indicative of Area15’s success, Meow Wolf is set to have an incredible 2019.