Accessible Art: Meow Wolf Denver

Meow Wolf is a Santa-Fe based art and entertainment company which creates immersive experiences designed to transport guests out of their normal reality into a fantastical environment packed with visual, tactile, and auditory delights. The first Meow Wolf is located in Santa Fe and opened in 2016. Since that time, they have expanded into two additional locations, Las Vegas, and Denver.     

As a visually impaired person, I love art of all types, especially immersive art with a strong tactile and auditory component. I was very excited to learn that Meow Wolf is now offering Audio Described tours, which depart the Convergence Station lobby at 10AM on the second Saturday of the month. There is no additional cost for the Audio Described Tour, guests just need to schedule and confirm their time through the Meow Wolf website (more on that later).

Recently, I was offered an opportunity to join one of the Highlights of the Convergence Audio Description Tours, so I loaded up my wife and guide dog Fauna anticipating a great multi-sensory immersive art experience. I had not been to Meow Wolf before this tour, so I was really looking forward to it.

The Venue

The Denver Meow Wolf is located off I-25 near Empower Field at Mile High. Parking is limited, especially during football season, so plan your tour with plenty of time in mind. Meow Wolf boasts five stories with 90,000 square feet of space, 2/3 of that being dedicated to immersive art, and the remainder houses offices, a café, bar and an 800-person music venue.

My Experience

We arrived about half an hour before our tour time, queued up in the security line, and headed in. Upon scanning our tickets, we were directed into the venue and escorted to the waiting area where the audio described tour would meet. We were handed a single-ear headphone to wear during the tour, which did certainly help in the noisier environments of the venue. Members of the Meow Wolf QDOT Tour Team gave clear directions about the tour and did a great job of slipping into character as a Quantum tour guide showing travelers (guests) around the Convergence Station.

The two-hour tour was a highlight tour, which touched on the lore, and overall story arc of visiting a new dimension for each area located in the Convergence Station. As we progressed along the route, the QDOT guides took turns relaying information and fun facts about “their area”, which added a nice level of personability to the tour and helped to bring the story to life.  We wandered to and through each area of the venue and were treated to a variety of opportunities for tactile interaction. The guides were well-rehearsed and did a commendable job of delivering interesting tidbits, including well thought out descriptions of the art that even the fully sighted may miss.

As expected with a guided tour aimed at the visually impaired, one of the QDOT Tour Team was dedicated to wayfinding, ensuring that the travelers (guests) on the tour were directed to each location with clear and concise instructions. My guide dog is not easily distracted by sights and sounds so had no issue navigating from exhibit to exhibit. The entire team were very good about ensuring that travelers knew where handrails were located as we journeyed through the Convergence Station, as well as the objects around them at any given time.  They deftly pointed out interesting textures that were available and were well versed in offering to assist in helping guests find the features they were describing as the tour progressed.   

A mid-tour intermission was offered, and the QDOT Tour Team were more than willing to lead travelers to the restroom facilities if needed.

The environments

Around each corner in Meow Wolf Convergence Station, it felt like entering a new dimension with unique visuals, sounds, and textures to explore. Each environment is separated by thick vinyl curtains, doors, or elevators, and the tour team were very good about holding the obstructions open and ensuring the whole group was through before moving on.

Each new environment featured interesting ground and wall textures to experience, environmental sounds, and a myriad of cool lights. It should be noted here that if guests are sensitive to bright lights or (in some areas) loud-ish sounds, that Meow Wolf offer a variety of accommodations to help with these kinds of sensitivities – all one needs to do is ask at the front desk when entering the venue. Though there were a couple parts of the tour with some louder sounds, they did not bother my guide dog, and she was not distracted by the bright lights in the darkened environment – your mileage may vary of course.

At no time did I feel like I was unsteady while traversing the exhibits. Guests should be aware there were a few areas where the wall textures extended to the ground and could pose a tripping hazard, the tour guides considerately pointed these out, but this is a consideration if you are visiting by yourself. Walkways, hallways, and other areas seemed adequately wide enough for those who may be mobility impaired or wheelchair users. The only place that did not have level ground or ramps were the explorable vehicles, some were a bit higher than a standard sedan and there was a bus that we entered which was not wheelchair accessible – there were however many interesting things outside of the vehicles to explore and enjoy.

More to see

At just around two hours, the Highlights of the Convergence tour’s time length was right on the money. It did not feel like it dragged in any way, and it was made very clear that Meow Wolf had a lot more to offer. The tour did a great job of conveying the background and interesting facts about each environment and inspired the guests to return for further investigation. Once the tour was completed, we happily wandered back into the exhibits to explore some of the smaller areas, which is easier to do with a smaller group. There are so many doors, and behind many are cool small areas to explore.    

Be sure to bring your smartphone, there are QR codes to scan which bring you to an interesting internet location and is just another way to explore this fun and immersive environment.

My favorite part

There were a couple of exhibits which really stuck with me. First was a room where the artist was a wheelchair user, and had designed the room with accessibility in mind, I found it interesting to hear the other guests discussing that they were unaware of what was required to make a kitchen environment accessible to a mobility impaired person.

I also very much liked the exhibit that was centered around memory. The team explained to us that the artist had a family member going through different stages of Alzheimer’s and the lighted and textured sculptures in the exhibit represented neurons in the brain. The installation featured monitors in housings made to look like old-time televisions displaying memories of the artist and their afflicted family member. This fit well into the cave of memories environment especially when the QDOT Tour Team explained that the lore for the Convergence Station was that memories were used as currency. It was interesting to follow the thought process that the person with Alzheimer’s would be becoming poorer as they lost their memories to that terrible disease. 

Accessibility

It is refreshing to see a company that is “all in” on accessibility for their guests. Clearly, Meow Wolf has spent ample time considering accessibility for most guests requiring accommodations. If you have questions about accessibility, please check out Meow Wolf’s Accessibility Page at:

https://meowwolf.com/visit/denver/accessibility

It should also be mentioned that Meow Wolf has a no-pet policy and does not allow Emotional Support Animals, Comfort Animals or Therapy Animals. Having taken the tour, and had my guide dog leading me, I am not comfortable in saying that service animals without a high level of training would perform to the best of their abilities in the immersive and stimulating environment Meow Wolf offers.

If this article has inspired you, and you would like to schedule a spot for an upcoming Highlights of the Convergence tour, you can fill out the form on this page at the link below and the Meow Wolf staff will walk you through the necessary steps. There is no additional cost to attend the tour, it is included with the price of regular admission, you only need to schedule the tour time with the staff.

Meow Wolf page to sign up for Audio Description Tour

https://meowwolf.com/visit/denver/audio-description-tour

Final thoughts

The exhibits in Convergence Station ranged from fun and light to deep and thought-provoking in nature. Some pieces were intimate and quiet, inviting introspective contemplation and others were loud, raucous, and bright. Travelers never knew what was coming next, and that was part of the fun. Along the way, the QDOT Tour Team enhanced the experience with descriptions that were just the right length. I highly recommend this tour for anyone who is low vision or visually impaired, and I certainly plan to return for some solo exploration of the exhibits.

Before you go…

I love to hear from my readers, have you attended the Highlights of the Convergence tour? What did you think? Additionally, if you have questions about this article or any other content on Blind Travels, feel free to drop me a note on my social media links below or right here on blind travels. Follow me and I will happily follow you back.

My Photography: www.tahquechi.com

Twitter: @nedskee

Instagram: @nedskee

Blind Travels on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blindtravels/

 

Resources

Main Meow Wolf home page

https://meowwolf.com/

 

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“Ted’s journey into the landscape of the human body is a marvelous celebration of all that is physical, sensual and diverse
” – FSTOPPERS

About the author

Ted Tahquechi is a blind photographer, travel influencer, disability advocate and photo educator based in Denver, Colorado. You can see more of Ted’s work at www.tahquechi.com

Ted operates Blind Travels, a travel blog designed specifically to empower blind and visually impaired travelers. https://www.blindtravels.com/

Ted’s body-positive Landscapes of the Body project has been shown all over the world, learn more about this intriguing collection of photographic work at: https://www.bodyscapes.photography/

 Questions or comments? Feel free to email Ted at: nedskee@tahquechi.com 

Instagram: @nedskee

Twitter: @nedskee


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