Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart in Las Vegas: Our Favorite New Vegas Attraction
Omega Mart from Meow Wolf is not what it seems.
It looks like a regular grocery store, but then you examine what’s on the shelves: a fizzy drink called Liquid Death, a laundry detergent called Plausible Deniability, a Warhol-esque display from Camel’s Meal Substitute Sop. The steaks behind the meat counter are red, white and blue. Walk past a toxic spill blocked with duct tape and into the produce section, where you look into one end of a kaleidoscopic squash. And in personal care, there is a real deodorant from a brand called Future Contact; this particular perfume is âInitiationâ.
âWe wanted a real deodorant, and we wanted it to have a human scent,â says Emily Montoya with a laugh. “The idea is that it’s a deodorant for aliens pretending to be humans.”
This is Omega Mart, a dystopian new installation by Santa Fe-based art collective Meow Wolf, of which Montoya is co-founder and Senior VP of Brand. You will find it in Zone 15, a futuristic adult Disneyland just minutes from the Las Vegas Strip. (Other attractions at the high-tech complex include a psychedelic barcade, flight simulator, and an immersive Van Gogh digital art exhibition.) More than just an Instagrammable grocery store, Omega Mart is a fusion of 60 different environments created by 350 artists, with a soundtrack by musicians such as Brian Eno and Beach House. Stumble through a fridge of Omega sodas and into an extraordinary alternate reality where nothing is what it seems.
Say that Meow wolf (a name created by pulling two random names out of a hat) only makes âlarge-scale immersive installationsâ barely scratch the surface. These visionary misfits create whole new worlds, with elaborate narratives (hard to follow, totally nuts). Formed in 2008 by a group of rag tag artists trying to make their name in Santa Fe, the collective made headlines in 2016 with their first permanent installation, the House of Eternal Return. Opened in a former bowling alley and funded in part by none other than George RR Martin, the sprawling space contains 70 hallucinatory and interactive art rooms themed around a mysterious scenario, plus a bar and concert stage for live shows.
This is a must visit in Santa Fe, and after a long hiatus in 2020, they have finally reopened with reduced capacity protocols and Covid. They even incorporated the hand sanitizer into the design concept so as not to shatter the illusion: âWe had artists paint the hand sanitizer to make it look like a piece of floating soil, with mushrooms that grow from it, âsays Montoya.
Open in February, Omega Mart is the second permanent installation to come out of Meow Wolf (a third will open in Denver Later this year). But the concept dates back to 2009 when it was first performed in a warehouse in Santa Fe. âIt was like, let’s be irreverent. Let’s do this artist’s commentary on groceries, âsays Montoya. âThe shelves were made of plywood and cinder blocks, and we would save old gallons of milk and fill them with rainbow paint water and write in Sharpie, like ‘moose milk’ on them.
For his second iteration in 2012, the group rented a commercial space in a shopping center and collaborated with a educational awareness program to offer the products. âThe kids would create just crazy things, like a ‘giant sponge in a box for the cows that were kidnapped,’â recalls Montoya. âWe designed them and put them on the shelves.â The collective even ran ads in local newspapers offering ânationally localized productsâ and ârecommended organic products,â not to mention Meow Wolf.
âIt was like ‘Omega Mart is coming to Santa Fe! “” said Montoya. “And everyone thought it was real!” We had real grocery stores that were afraid of being their competition.
This Omega Mart in Las Vegas has a slightly higher budget. Meow Wolf’s management team now includes former bigwigs from Goldman Sachs, Disney and LucasArts; in 2019, they closed a $ 158 million investment round.
But, it’s still Meow Wolf, so expect an overblown experience where accidentally opened portals lead to sensory playgrounds with sinister subplots. âThe whole story is, Omega Mart is America’s most exceptional grocery store, and they portray everything as if it’s normal,â Montoya says. âBut what really happened is that they are an offshoot of this bigger cyber-spiritual mega. company called Dramcorp, and Dramcorp, trying to innovate in the supply chain, introduced technology that essentially opened up a portal. ”
Admission fees $ 45 ($ 35 if you are a Nevada resident). Toast your victory over Dramcorp’s HR robot in Datamosh’s hidden bar, serving cocktails like Old Fashioned Spray or the Meowjito. And take some Omega products at home with you – like ‘Who Told You This Was Butter’, a buttery scented home cooling spray, or the P-2000 Cracker. âIt will repair any type of crack on the surface of any type of cracker,â says Montoya. “It’s also better known as peanut butter.” She also recommends the salted peanuts nut free. (Salt. It’s just a can of salt.)