House of Eternal Return

 In Travel

After our wedding at the beautiful Inn of the Turquoise Bear, but before embarking on a honeymoon tour through the Southwest, Laura and I visited an art installation that everyone we’d met from Albuquerque to Santa Fe had been raving about: House of Eternal Return.

The exhibit, created by local arts collective Meow Wolf, consists of a two-story Victorian house planted in the middle of a renovated bowling alley (now owned and leased to the group by Game of Thrones scribe George R. R. Martin) in Santa Fe’s industrial district.

Parking lot robot

Parking lot robot

Entering the house

Entering the house

The house isn’t normal, though. According to a letter you find in the mailbox out front and news articles in the kitchen, the house has somehow managed to eliminate time and space and exist in more than one place. Its inhabitants, the Selig family, are nowhere to be found, and your job as a visitor is to read the clues throughout the house and put together what may have happened to them. I don’t think there’s a specific answer—at least I couldn’t find one—so it’s kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure book or a video game. How Meow Wolf makes this house exist in more than one place is by utilizing lots of trap doors and hidden locations. For instance, you can duck down and climb through the fireplace in the living room and you’re suddenly in a cavern with glowing formations and pods.

Glowing stalactite formations.

Glowing stalactite formations

Neon cocoons.

Neon cocoons

Glowing cave room

Glowing cave room

Nothing in this house is what it seems. Mirrors have messages; toilets contain tiny children calling out to you; and when I walked into the kitchen, someone was exiting the refrigerator. Of course, I then entered the fridge myself, and behind the door, down a narrow white corridor, was what seemed to me like a spaceship filled with the kind of technology that’s supposed to be “the future” in ’70s film and television.

The talking mirror in the dining room

The talking mirror in the dining room

The fridge to another dimension.

The fridge to another dimension

The technology behind the fridge.

The technology behind the fridge

I suspect that House of Eternal Return is designed to make you return eternally, because there’s no way you can make sense of it in just one visit (and we especially couldn’t as it was the morning after our wedding). Because it’s free-roaming, you can create your own narrative each time with new clues and a new route. I have to say, it’s one of the most interesting art experiences I’ve ever had, and I think it would be for just about anybody. If you’re ever in Santa Fe, put this at the top of your list of things to do.

Here is a quick Snapchat story from my visit:

 

Get more info at the Meow Wolf website.

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