Meow Wolf Has Landed

By Mindy Sink

What’s a Meow Wolf? Meow Wolf is an immersive art experience that started in Santa Fe, N.M., then expanded to Las Vegas, Nev., and will now open its third location in Denver on Sept. 17, 2021.

“Denver has a large DIY artist community and there was also a redevelopment opportunity. So, these were the genesis for bringing Meow Wolf to Denver,” says Todd Richins, executive creative producer of the Meow Wolf Denver exhibition.

Each Meow Wolf location not only has its own theme, but its own detailed sci-fi backstory that is essentially illustrated in 3-D for visitors. In Santa Fe’s House of Eternal Return, a house has been recreated inside an old bowling alley where clues lead through the fireplace, and even the clothes dryer, in search of a fictional missing family. The Las Vegas Omega Mart is a trippy fictitious mega-store with an intriguing pseudo-corporate cover up story to follow. Meow Wolf Denver’s theme is Convergence Station and is described as the most complex incarnation of storytelling and immersive art yet. 

The concept is always to “challenge perceptions of reality” when exploring Meow Wolf, according to its creators. For Willy Wonka fans, Meow Wolf Denver is described as being “akin to an everlasting gobstopper.” 

“The story of our exhibition is that the Quantum Department of Transportation in Denver has created a system to take people to four converged worlds,” Richins explains. “It takes time to peel back the layers to discover what brought these four worlds together.” (A little teaser: it involves four women.)

Unlike the Santa Fe location, where visitors pass through “portals” (these serve to separate rooms and realities, so in one instance a portal is a dryer in the house with a slide in it that brings you to a completely different room not in the house—or is it?—in the age of dinosaurs), in Denver it’s about “anchor spaces” that can lead to other artist exhibition spaces. The anchor spaces are alien worlds where visitors are “transported” between them. “In Earth terms, you’d call it an elevator,” Richins says of the camouflaged transportation devices. 

Meow Wolf Denver has been three years in the making with 300 creatives coming together, including 110 Colorado-based artists. Inside this new, cavernous space, squished between Colfax Ave. and I-25 in Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood, there are more than 70 installations to see. In a way, it can feel almost like a themed group gallery exhibit. 

You don’t have to follow the story when visiting Meow Wolf, and how you explore the space will depend on the group you’re with or how much time you have. Treat it like a gallery visit, walking around and possibly scooting through “wormholes” to look at the various artwork, or go all-in on the non-linear narrative. Although, according to Richins, it might take you at least three to four hours to explore Meow Wolf Denver by following the story itself. “We expect the majority of people will not choose to dive in that deeply and will spend about two to three hours in the space,” Richins says. “There is so much to look at here and you can wander wherever you want.”

Once you’re inside, it won’t matter if you know the difference between an anchor space, a room, or wormhole. At Convergence Station, the word psychedelic cannot be overused to describe the bright, unusual, intriguing, and simply out-of-this-world creations. Alien worlds include the Catacombs, where visitors may feel as if they’re on the set of the original Star Trek series and Ice World, which features a futuristic sort of palace set amongst what look like cliffs of ice. 

“This is a great opportunity for families to come and engage with art, to be playful, and have a good time,” Richins says. “At a typical museum, you can’t touch the artwork, but here it’s just the opposite.”

If this is sounding like a long—albeit fun—day, no worries because the Meow Wolf Café offers dine-in or take out options. There is also a music venue and private event space, so check their online calendar for specific happenings. 

Mindy Sink is a Denver-based freelance journalist and guidebook author. She is the author of Walking Denver, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Denver and Boulder, and Moon Handbooks Guide to Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Denver Post, and many other publications. Read about her latest adventures at mindysink.com.

If you go

Meow Wolf Denver is located at 1338 1st St., Denver, Colo. 80204. Timed-entry reservations can be made online, and check their website for the latest updates on COVID-19 precautions. 

Hours: 
Sun–Thu.: 10 a.m.–10 p.m.
Fri–Sat.: 10 a.m.–midnight

Tickets:
$45 – Adults 
$40 – Seniors (65+), Veterans, and Children (5–13)
Colorado residents get $10 off with ID.