It’s one thing to walk through an art exhibit and gaze at evocative artwork. It’s another thing entirely to be inside an art exhibit, literally immersed in the art. That’s the experience Meow Wolf offers. I recently visited the Denver location while on a trip, and it was out-of-this-world cool.
If you live near one of Meow Wolf’s west-ish coast exhibits, or are planning a road trip near one in the future, I highly recommend buying some tickets. It’s fun for the whole family and you can easily spend hours there exploring and looking at all the things within its walls.
Before you continue, beware that my article contains details and images of this location, which could potentially be a spoiler if you’re planning on going there. Most of the fun is seeing this stuff for the first time, so don’t say I didn’t warn ya!
What Is Meow Wolf?
The folks who built Meow Wolf—an informal DIY collective of Santa Fe artists self-described as “artists with previous and current lives as graphic designers, technologists, writers, fabricators, painters, sculptors, musicians, rat gang leaders, and shoplifters”—first came up with the idea in 2008. The company’s mission is “to inspire creativity through art, exploration, and play so that imagination will transform the world.”
The group worked for 10 years to find their own door into the art world. They started out by salvaging all kinds of items from dumpsters, and none of the artists took any pay. Along the way, they even worked with George R.R. Martin (yes, that George R.R. Martin) to purchase the space for their first permanent exhibition in Santa Fe, which was formerly a bowling alley.
Now, together, the team has built out three “immersive and interactive experiences that transport audiences of all ages into fantastic realms of story and exploration,” with locations in Sante Fe, Las Vegas, and most recently, Denver. That location, dubbed Convergence Station, is the one I recently visited, and I only have good things to say about its immersive and wildly fun maximalist environment.
The team behind Meow Wolf has, indeed, claimed a hard-earned spot in the art world, and their successful expansion into three locations (and equally unique experiences) is the proof in the pudding. By far, the best thing about Meow Wolf is that it’s totally unique. It’s not like an art museum, and it’s not like Burning Man or a video game or anything else in the entire world. You literally walk through a portal into what feels like a different world or dimension, and wow, is it mind-expanding!
Actually, if Meow Wolf is akin to anything, it’s a dream. An exploration of the intersection of sci-fi and fantasy. An almost psychedelic brain-bending journey. One minute you’re entering a cosmic elevator and the next, you’ve stepped into a cyberpunk alleyway or an ice castle or a swamp, each with a thousand sights and sounds vying for your attention, beckoning you to come explore. All in all, the experience was nearly beyond words—Meow Wolf is just something you should experience for yourself. Pictures and videos and even this article can’t do it justice. Just trust me on this one.
Convergence Station’s four-story exhibit is a bold, dazzling, and unique experience. It took a massive team of 300 creatives (including more than 100 locals from Colorado) to build out the more than 70 unique installations, portals, and rooms across four unique worlds. The result? An awe-inspiring liminal dreamland that manages to blend a cyberpunk acid-trip post-apocalyptic junkyard, underwater playground, Alice in Wonderland, and extra-terrestrial interplanetary villain headquarters.
And that’s great because “interplanetary” is exactly the vibe the Meow Wolf team was reaching for here, hence the name Convergence Station—it’s essentially a train station between unique dimensions. When you first walk in the door, you’ve got the option to start your visit at one of several different installations. Though each visitor ultimately starts at the same place, there are many different destinations and nooks and crannies to explore—none of which could be described as parallel to each other.
Each new area you walk into gives you that same feeling you get while moving from one weird room in a vivid dream to the next. It’s sensory intensity. Thousands of new sounds and colors and textures overwhelm your mind, but in the best way possible. It invites you to come in and spend hours pouring over every little detail.
And wow, is there ever a lot to look at.
I was promised an out-of-this-world experience that would delight my inner child and Meow Wolf delivered. When I stepped into the building, I was stoked to see that it literally did look like a cosmic metro station. I took a minute to look up at the gorgeous dome (photographed above) in the entryway and feel the vibes, then I was off for my first interdimensional adventure.
The C Street metropolis is the first “world” I entered. I don’t know how Meow Wolf knew that I’ve always wanted to walk through a neon cyberpunk back alley, but I lived the dream. The world was filled with metal and neon signs that led to a variety of smaller destinations, like a small obtuse cinema, a curious kitchen, a storefront with an enigmatic storekeeper, a trash couch, a hallway of beep-booping computers and dials and radars, a jangling never-ending percussive symphony, and so so so much more. There were so many things to look at and sit in and listen to and climb on and touch.
It’s easy to feel like you’re on a movie set here, or in a video game or living out your childhood dream of a choose-your-own-adventure book, with all the doors and rooms and things. You can feast your eyes on all of the stores and vehicles and games and sculptures and secret hallways. Thousands of details to look at, millions of buttons to press, and a lifetime of exploration. The best parts of this world were the eight bus-seat cinema playing indescribable esoteric videos that were just weirdly wonderful.
Well, that and all of the doors that led to hidden rooms. There were So. Many. Doors.
Once I got my fill there, I decided to head to the swamp world of Numina, which ended up being my favorite of the four worlds. I’m still looking for the proper words to describe this place, and am very much still dazzled by underwater jellyfish seashell spaceship vibes. It’s an enormous cavern-like area filled with (fake, obviously) “living” material like moss, flowers, mushrooms, jellyfish, and other unknowable creatures. I even spotted Meow Wolf cast members dressed up like little swamp forest creatures that would perch here and there, which was a fun touch.
My favorite areas within Numina were the twisted hallway (that I was not nearly coordinated enough to walk through) and the secret room underneath the spaceship thing, wherein you could rotate the glass orb at its center to change the color and effects of the room, from a bold magenta to a serene seafoam green.
I then found my way through another portal to visit Eemia. With its enormous kaleidoscopic neon-and-glass cathedral, it was, without a doubt, the coolest and most iconic world. I wanted to stay here and stare at it forever! Inside the cathedral was a rotating wheel you could interact with to move its spires and an ethereal organ you could play.
Although Eemia is described as an ice castle, ice could never be this exciting. Eemia feels like it’s set in an icy crater on an asteroid in deep space. Icy-looking textures ride the walls all the way up, while the ceiling looks like the night sky; you can even sit in a Transformers-looking robot chair and attempt to trigger an event that shows the stars on the ceiling moving and a black hole/aurora/space-time/Doctor Who intro rift opening up.
Finally, I rounded out the trip with a walk through the Ossuary—to my delight, it was more neon and less scary than the famous Douaumont Ossuary in France. It actually looked like a giant catacomb, with muted colors, cave-ish textures, and light-up crystals on the wall. This area, at times, had similar vibes to C Street, with graffitied walls lit up with flyers and tons of doors that led to colorful pockets filled with surprises like a semi-nightmarish pizza party room and a room that was pitch black except for the tower of giant touchscreens at its center that you could interact with to make intergalactic-sounding music.
Meow Wolf is the type of experience I live for. Something fresh and creative and evocative. Something that hasn’t been done to death, like escape rooms or art festivals or (god forbid) cornhole and billiard tables at an airy brewery in an industrial building. As I mentioned earlier, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fantastic experience. It’s wonderful yet profoundly tough to describe; I also don’t want to spoil too much for those who want to visit the Denver location. Obviously, now I need to visit the other locations at some point, too, especially the one in Santa Fe so I can see where it all started.
Though it was super crowded when I went, which diminished the experience somewhat, it was still fun to spend a few hours there exploring the many worlds within Convergence Station. I’d have loved to visit a place like this when I was a kid, but still, I know I’ll enjoy each time I go back in the future. In fact, there’s so much to see and interact with (and there’s no right or wrong way to do so), I have no doubts that each visit would be a completely unique experience.
Convergence Station was unlike anything I’ve ever encountered. I’m still in awe of all the details there, of the massive creative endeavor this undoubtedly was. I felt like a kid again when I was at Meow Wolf and, to me, that’s worth every penny.