Attractions Management 2 August 2021

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VINCE KADLUBEK Now a multi-million dollar attractions operator, Meow Wolf started out as a collective of skint artists. As the company’s third permanent exhibition prepares to open in Denver, co-founder and director, Vince Kadlubek, talks to Kath Hudson about the highs and lows

What is Meow Wolf and how did it begin?

institutions and did some work within the

We’re an arts and experiential arts company

for some 20-somethings in 2008, had turned

which creates immersive multimedia experiences.

into an obligation for 30-somethings by 2014.

We started out in 2008 as an art collective/

We had momentum, but it wasn’t sustainable

social group, trying to break into the Santa Fe

and there was no career for those involved.

art scene. Unable to get much traction in our

Everyone was ready to go their own way,

own city, we felt like we were on the outside

but I was adamant our group had more to

looking in. All the existing players were interested

give and more art to create and suggested we

in a different aesthetic from us. It was prior to

create a permanent attraction which we could

Facebook and Instagram, and before the term

sell tickets to. Money was always the main

Millennial was broadly used, so there was a

issue. None of us came from money, we were

lack of understanding of the value of youthful,

struggling artists, who didn’t have rich parents

trendsetting fashion design and aesthetic.

or good credit. To borrow money everyone

As a result, we decided to open our own

wants to see a track record of success. To

exhibition and found a 1,000sq ft space to

progress things further we needed someone with

deck out. No one had any money, so we

money to be prepared to take a leap of faith.

looked in dumpsters for materials which we stapled to the walls. It was grungy experimentation with spray paint, chicken wire

How did you find a backer?

I had briefly worked as marketing director at

and Christmas lights. The end result was an

a movie theatre owned by Game of Thrones

artistic walk-through version of a dark ride.

author, George R R Martin. The job didn’t last

Was that the breakthrough moment for Meow Wolf?


education system. But what had been a hobby

long, but we became friends. When we found the space which would work for an exhibition, I asked George if he was prepared to invest in

No, but it led to a few years of creating

the property and become our landlord. Luckily

immersive exhibits in different spaces and

he went past the warning flags and took a risk

we managed to get onto the radar of a few

on our passion. With him on board, we could AUGUST 2021