Lonely Planet Writer

Inside the House of Eternal Return: a Santa Fe wonderland that takes 100 hours to explore

Santa Fe got a bit more colourful and fun with the opening of the Meow Wolf art complex last month. Located on the 2.6 acre site of a former bowling alley, in the heart of the complex lies The House of Eternal Return, an “explorable wonderland built for audiences of all ages”.

A peek inside the House of Eternal Return
A peek inside the House of Eternal Return Image by Meow Wolf

Upon entering, you are asked to choose your own path through the 20,000 square foot exhibition. The way will not be easy, so you can expect to walk, crawl and climb through the interactive exhibition and you’ll have to work it out yourself as there are no maps or guides to help you.

The facade of the House of Eternal Return.
The facade of the House of Eternal Return. Image by Meow Wolf

Everything is available to touch, explore and examine, prompting visitors to compare it to a real-life roleplaying game. If you covered everything, it would take you 100 hours to finish the entirety of the exhibition. On your way, you can expect to stumble upon an arcade, 4 treehouses, an interactive cave system and even a music venue that can fit 300 people.

The exhibition is fully interactive.
The exhibition is fully interactive. Image by Meow Wolf

The House of Eternal Return is not “just” an art installation. It’s also an immersive story which follows (in a non-linear fashion) a strange family whose Victorian house contains portals leading to realms of magic, far beyond our normal constraints of time and space. There are specific story arcs, plotlines and characters to follow, so the more you visit, the more you’ll uncover.

This bonafide house of imagination has another fantastical connection; it was purchased by Game of Thrones author George R R Martin specifically to renovate and lease to art collective Meow Wolf for this exact purpose.

🌳🏰🕸🍄 . . . #meowwolf #houseofeternalreturn #santafe 📸 @lindsekennedy

A photo posted by Meow Wolf (@meow__wolf) on Apr 13, 2016 at 4:39pm PDT

The House of Eternal Return is the first permanent exhibition by the company and was created by 135 artists and writers. As well as the exhibition, the complex  also houses workspaces, a learning centre and a performance venue.

What will you touch first?
What will you touch first? Image by Meow Wolf

Tickets to the exhibition cost $18 (or $15 if you’re a New Mexico resident) and an annual and lifetime passes are available. It’s open every day except Tuesday and, as you can see, the images from the installation are stunning and otherworldly. We’re packing our bags already.

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48 hours in Santa Fe