Friends, I have found the mother load of immersive environments. There are few things in life that excite me more than getting lost in a set that I can explore, dive deep into its details and not come out for hours. If you are a fan of superior art direction and set design, you must make a trip to the House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
This (to me anyway) is a new form of entertainment than what you may be familiar with. It is not an escape room nor an art museum. There are no actors and no tasks at hand. Your experience is what you make of it. You can walk through and admire the space or take your time and soak in the details. There is certainly no wrong way to do this.
You enter the House of Eternal Return just like you would any home: through the front door. Once inside you’ll notice that something is askew. It seems that something happened to the family that once lived here and somewhere within the home a portal, of sorts, has opened.
I’d like to point out that none of these pictures are doctored. This a real environment you can walk around in and explore. Warped floors and all. At any rate, you start to notice that the home has experienced something bizarre, unique and beautiful.
The further you explore, the more you can learn about each member of this family. Like layers of an onion, the more time you take to interact with the set, the more story you’ll bite into. After exploring the house for a while, things take a turn.
As you continue on, you realize that this portal opens up to entirely different dimensions. Places you’d never dream of going.
Turn a corner and you’re on some sort of alien spaceship.
If all this seems a little bizarre, I am right there with you. And that’s the intention: to create curiosity and make an art installation interactive and repeatable. The House of Eternal Return sells annual and even lifetime passes! I spoke with the CEO of Meow Wolf (the company who created this attraction) Vince Kadlubek about how all of this came about.
“The House of Eternal is our first major production, even though Meow Wolf has been doing these immersive art installations for about eight years,” said Kadlubek. “Over the last three or four years, we started adding a narrative to our work and that really brought us to this.”
Encompassing 22,000 square feet of space and a 2.7 million dollar investment, the House of Eternal Return took a total of 18 months to build and required the skills of over 150 artists.
What’s great about this experience is that it seems to trigger all demographics. “By day, this place is filled with families that have kids,” he explained. “In the late afternoon, we start to see groups of teenagers come through and at night there are lots of adults that visit us. So we are very much a family-friendly attraction that can appeal to just about everyone.”
If you’re looking at these pictures and thinking, “this would be perfect for an immersive theater experience!,” we are on the same page. It just seems too perfect not to be and I asked Vince Kadlubek if that was true. It turns out they are currently in development for such an immersive theater show and it should debut this summer. Yes, we will cover that here at TPU.
I have to go explore this for myself, so who is up for a trip to Santa Fe? For more information on House of Eternal Return, visit their website.
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