Editor’s note: On Aug. 3, Meow Wolf announced its opening date and ticket information. Here are the details.
Meow Wolf is staffing up and getting ready for its Fall 2021 opening in Denver, and after years of waiting, we’re finally seeing signs that the immersive art group’s Denver installation will be opening soon.
This week, Meow Wolf signs were installed outside of the gallery’s oddly-shaped building off of I-25 and West Colfax, indicating that Meow Wolf is putting on its final touches. But the appearance of the signs seem to coincide with other, more cryptic and very on-brand marketing development.
Meow Wolf is difficult to explain to someone who’s never experienced it. Each installation- in Santa Fe, Las Vegas and now Denver- is a massive art exhibition made up of dozens of artist-designed rooms, all integrated by an overarching surreal storyline and structured into a mazelike fantasy world to lose yourself in. It’s full of puzzles and secrets for visitors to decode, which serve to help uncover the elaborate story behind each installation.
Lately, the folks at Meow Wolf have been dropping subtle hints about what Denver’s storyline might be via mysterious billboards, surreal posters and secret codes. Yesterday, an email sent out to Meow Wolf newsletter subscribers read: “Save THIS Date: It’s All Coming Together in Denver.” The body of the email asked readers to “commit to memory” the date Aug. 3.
“Commit this date to memory,” the email said. “Remember this day. Remember to remember.”
Underneath that message is a graphic illustration of what seems to be an elevator bearing the words “he Gyre.” The elevator doors open to a photo teasing the Meow Wolf Denver installation: a car parked in what resembles a dark city alley.
It’s unclear what the date Aug. 3 might refer to. It’s likely too soon to be the exhibit’s opening (it’s planned for sometime this fall), but one reddit user speculated it might be a theme announcement. Another thought is that it might be a sneak peak at the exhibit, which seems to include a themed elevator installation that would take guests up and down the building’s four floors. Another user dug into what the “Gyre” might be, and learned from a google search that “gyre” means “vortex.”
Kevin Lacjak is an engineering student at CU Boulder. He’s also a massive Meow Wolf fan.
“I think that Meow Wolf is doing really incredible and innovative stuff,” he said. “I think they’re doing some really impressive things that haven’t been done before.”
After visiting the first installation, The House of Eternal Return, in Santa Fe a few years back, Lacjak couldn’t stop thinking about it. He wrote his senior paper about Meow Wolf in high school, and even interviewed one of its founders, Vince Kadlubek. He said the installations have the potential to change the way visitors view the real world. The key to each Meow Wolf experience is that you enter it through something mundane and accessible- a house, for example, or a grocery store. As you move through the space, you uncover fantastical worlds hidden within that seemingly normal one, discovering secrets buried in everyday objects. The more you dig, the more you find.
“By walking into a world where everything is different- like, you’ll spend five hours looking at the trees inside of the exhibit, because maybe it has eyes on it. Maybe there’s a clue,” he said. “You’ll look at every small detail. And then when you leave, and go back into the real world, the hope is that some of that ‘everything is interesting’ kind of goes with you.”
He says that in the years since his first trip to Meow Wolf, he’s visited Omega Mart in Las Vegas, returned to the Santa Fe location, and combed every detail he could both in the exhibits and online to understand the stories and mysteries of each site, and where they overlap. When he learned Meow Wolf had bought land in Denver, he was so excited he immediately drove to the Denver site to scope it out.
Lacjak says he’s part of a mostly online Meow Wolf community that scours the internet for clues into the exhibitions’ storylines and in-exhibit puzzles.
There are secrets about Meow Wolf that probably no one has discovered yet, he said. One reddit user, for instance, found clues about Denver’s “Gyre” by digging through code on a techstream Meow Wolf site.
Lacjak said the Omega Mart discord group requires people to submit a researcher application to be allowed to contribute to the mystery’s documentation, and that there are some people called “travelers” who live near a Meow Wolf location and can go test theories in person for other members of the community. While he’s too busy with his studies to volunteer to be a Denver traveler, he’s super excited to help solve the mystery behind Meow Wolf Denver.
“It’s really exciting to know that the story of Omega Mart and Meow Wolf is evolving as we solve it,” he said.
Meow Wolf’s marketing seems to be hinting at some room or larger theme involving memory.
In the last couple of weeks, Denverites have noticed strange pink flyers posted around town, reading “USED SHRIMP MEMORIES WANTED: Jumbo? Alaskan? Tiger? Pet?” Underneath that message is some scribbly type, which appears to be a coded message or a message written in another language.
Meow Wolf Denver confirmed that the shrimp fliers were their work with a posted photo of the flier to their social media on July 20, captioned, “We can’t remember what this is, and maybe that’s why.”
The shrimp fliers invite readers to “Call to donate now,” and list a number: 1-855-GIV-MEMS.
When you call the number, you’re greeted by some staticky, dissonant noise, followed by a recording by a mechanical female voice, saying:
“Hello, and thank you for calling the QDOT Memory Donation Line, part of the Share-A-Mem Foundation. All memories, big or small, are greatly appreciated. So please, give what your mind can spare.
“To donate a childhood memory, press 1. To donate a fresh memory, press 2. To donate a shrimp-flavored memory, press 3. To donate a blurry or faded memory that may require refurbishment, press 4. For all other memories, press 5 or stay on the line.
“Thank you. Your generosity, like your memories, will never be forgotten. Please record your memory after the ‘bloop.'”
QDOT stands for “Quantum Department of Transportation.” Fans who visited Meow Wolf’s Kaleidoscope ride at Elitch Gardens might remember that QDOT factored into the attraction, which took guests on a wild ride through multiple universes.
Fans might also notice that the elevator door in the email about Aug. 3 bears the same logo as the Kaleidoscope ride: a shape resembling a Q, but with a dot for a tail. The logo is also the icon for Meow Wolf’s “Meow Wolf Denver” highlights reel on Instagram. And looking at the online sneak peeks into some of the Meow Wolf Denver installations, there’s a lot of talk about vortexes and quantum leaps. So it’s easy to make the (quantum) leap that Meow Wolf Denver might involve inter-universe travel.
Members of the online Meow Wolf community noticed that a couple of billboards have recently popped up around Denver, bearing messages in the same mysterious language used in the shrimp poster.
Some fans have been working to decode the messages, and some believe they’ve worked it out.
“I spent lots of nights trying to solve the code,” Lacjak said. “And then eventually, one guy figured out that it was phonetic and wasn’t a direct one-to-one substitution. And that led us to figuring out most of the most of the codes, if not all the codes. I think it’s super fun.”
If they’re right, one sign seems to read: “convergence is coming,” a reference to the experience’s rumored name. One sign above Brighton Boulevard seems to read “a trip to remember?” A billboard on West Colfax might say “get out and see the worlds.”
We’ll have to wait until the fall to “see the worlds.” In the meantime, you can remember to remember Aug 3, and get an early glimpse of those worlds on Meow Wolf’s website.