Tattooed turkeys, nut-free peanut jars, and cans of chunked Wooly Mammoth meat sound like the prank grocery products of your nightmares, but your dreams very much come to life at Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart inside AREA15 in Las Vegas. You could easily spend hours scanning shelves of exotic mock products, or you could step inside the ice case and follow a winding hallway that leads to another universe entirely.
This funky, brightly-colored attraction is actually an art installation that’s part of the Meow Wolf family. Meow Wolf is a collective of underground artists that was founded in Santa Fe in 2008, according to their site. Over the past 15 years, the group has grown to include full-time artists across four cities who specialize in sculpting, fabrication, painting, graphic/digital design, and more. The culmination of the hundreds of artists’ work can be experienced at unique art installations in Santa Fe, Denver, Grapevine, and Las Vegas.
Why is Meow Wolf Called ‘Meow Wolf?’
In the”Meow Wolf: The Origin Story” documentary, the co-founders of Meow Wolf talk about sitting around in a circle, tossing name suggestions for the collective into a hat. As the name suggestions were read aloud, “Meow Wolf” was one of the ideas, a random combination of words, written on a piece of paper. Co-founders of the group laughed in the documentary at the bizarreness of the combination of words, yet somehow it stuck with everyone long enough to become the chosen name of the group.
Did George R.R. Martin Fund Meow Wolf?
Walking into a Meow Wolf exhibit, it’s hard to be surprised by much of anything, but famed “Song of Ice and Fire” author George R.R. Martin’s connection to Meow Wolf has surprised fans of both the hit HBO show “Game of Thrones” and Meow Wolf locations around the country. Meow Wolf’s blog shares details of the connection and how Martin, who has a close relationship with one of the co-founders of Meow Wolf, purchased an old bowling alley in Santa Fe and helped the group fund renovations to transform the building into what is now the home of the Santa Fe installation.
Meow Wolf, Las Vegas
To understand just what you’re looking at when you step into this otherworldly place right off the Las Vegas Strip, you need to first understand where the installation is located, inside the Area15 campus. The building itself is almost like a blacklight-dimmed mall with neon lights, unusual statues, and ear-tingling sounds tickling your senses from the moment you walk in and the entrance door shuts behind you.
The Las Vegas Journal covered the opening of AREA15 in September 2020, alluding to how well the secret of what was being built inside was kept, at the time. For Las Vegas residents and visitors beginning to make their way back to entertainment venues after the COVID-19 pandemic, AREA15 provided an escape not just from pandemic reality, but pre-pandemic reality as well.
Several separate attractions and businesses line both sides of the building, but the Omega Mart, which has been open in Las Vegas since 2021, seizes attention almost immediately as it not only takes up a sizeable portion of the left side of the building but looks out of place. The bright, fluorescent lights stand out in the darkness of AREA15. At first glance, Omega Mart looks like a normal grocery store dropped in the middle of a rave venue.
Omega Mart Tickets
Admission moves quickly if you’ve purchased a ticket in advance (the exhibit is open 7 days a week and invites children as well as adults). Once in the artificial store, you’re free to explore, touch, and take your time. Guides are there to help answer your questions, but it’s almost more fun if you don’t ask, let your eyes do some wandering, and enjoy hearing, holding, and seeing the artists’ imagination in real life.
As you walk up and down the aisles and make your way past the produce section, a hallway brings you into another realm, if that’s the way you want to get there. There are several other entranceways into the extraterrestrial part of the exhibit, including a small tent display of camping supplies or (a fan favorite) through the beer refrigerator.
Once through, projection art splashes onto curved, cavernous walls, and the songs and sounds draw you into a trance as you crawl through tunnels and walk over bridges room by room. There are buttons to push, items to pick up, and tons of Instagrammable scenery. There’s so much to see, Redditors have started chiming in on a list of Easter eggs worth looking for. If a door is unlocked, you’re allowed in, but you don’t know exactly what you might find– and that’s part of the fun.
At times, Meow Wolf will have you questioning reality, or, in the case of Omega Mart, if what we eat in real life is so much healthier than the parody products you see on the shelves there. But sometimes, an imaginative break from reality is just what we need. If you’re looking to get lost for a few hours or break away from the Las Vegas heat, this is one attraction, unlike anything you’ve seen in this world.