Meow Wolf has become, almost overnight, a big deal.
What was for years a scruffy, offbeat “arts collective” in Santa Fe is now building an arts/entertainment empire, with announcements this month that it’s expanding to fancy new digs in Denver and Las Vegas, Nev.
Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return, in an old Santa Fe bowling alley acquired with help from author George R.R. Martin, has been a smash hit since opening in March 2016. Attendance at the fantastical and immersive funhouse that tells a hidden story was 400,000 in its first year and generated $6 million, Meow Wolf says.
And while boomers looking for the next Bonnie Raitt or Lucinda Williams show may not have noticed, Meow Wolf also has become a very busy concert venue.
The huge projects in Denver (a $50 million space where Meow Wolf will rent from developers) and Vegas (part of a 166,000-square-foot complex, with partners from New York and Vegas) will make Meow Wolf into a national brand.
Some local fans are lamenting that Meow Wolf will no longer be a uniquely Santa Fe thing. But the proper reaction is to say congratulations and wish a homegrown venture well as it moves into the big time. Old Santa Fe, where Meow Wolf leader Vince Kadlubek was born and raised, is sending something new out into the world.
There have been some prickly political/interpersonal issues involving Meow Wolf at City Hall – sometimes aggravated by the arts venture itself – but that’s besides the point that its success should be celebrated and a source of pride in Santa Fe.
The mega-expansion to big cities, so quickly, is stunning. There’s a natural worry that Meow Wolf may be going too far too fast. But the people putting up the big bucks for the new locations don’t seem to think so.
So good luck, Meow Wolf. Just don’t forget where you came from and keep that Santa Fe operation going strong.