It’s either the first or last place you would want to be on drugs. On the dusty outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a 20,000 square foot, life-sized manifestation of a deep acid trip called the “House of Eternal Return.”
If you were to export the imagination of a high, 1967 John Lennon into a fully-immersive art installment, this is probably what it would look like. The “House of Eternal Return” is the brainchild of Meow Wolf, an art collective established in 2008, which puts the minds of 100 local artists together to create a “unique combination of children’s museum, art gallery, jungle gym, and fantasy novel.”
Fittingly, the project is funded in part by George R. R. Martin, the novelist, and mastermind behind the A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series that would later be adapted into the explosively popular Game of Thrones television series. Martin reportedly contributed a staggering $3.5 million to the project. And if the creator of the fantasy novel of our generation thought the project was worth millions of dollars in funding, chances are it’s pretty damn transcendental.
If you’re an artist who aspires to create something along the lines of a Meow Wolf project, the team also offers after-school programs that teach art and ceramics. If you’re an experienced artist looking for a dream gig, Meow Wolf is currently hiring for over a dozen positions. If you’re just someone who walked in off the street looking to kill time, prepare to enter the fifth dimension—you’re about to be very, very confused.
Meow Wolf aims to provide a more immersive artistic experience than a typical gallery, through the use of “narrative storytelling, visual and audio polyphony, live music, performative experiences, and interactivity.”
You can buy, and sip microbrews to calm the sensory overload of colors, textures, and sounds that surround you in the House of Eternal Return.
From the moment you walk in, you’ll encounter fortune telling ATMs, Day-Glo forests, and rooms that seemingly span multiple dimensions.
While the House of Eternal Return may seem like a primarily aesthetic experience, there’s more to it than just the full-fledged sensory assault—the installation is supposed to immerse you in a narrative that some have described as a sort of psychedelic “murder mystery.”
Others describe the House as the closest you’ll ever experience to falling down the rabbit hole of the Alice in Wonderland universe.
Many who enter find it difficult to describe the House of Eternal Return, due to a lack of available parallels to reality.
Some rooms feel like you’re on the inside of a black-lit coral reef in space, floating through the inky darkness.
In others, you’re surrounded by the disturbing imagery of myriad televisions, all blaring their frightening scenes in a cacophony of Clockwork Orange style terror.
The House of Eternal Return also features established musical artists like Fleet Foxes and Electric Guest.
If you’re considering a trip to the House of Eternal Return, I’ll leave you with some fitting words from Hunter S. Thompson, one of the world’s most acute psychedelic explorers: “Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.”