$30M Denver kaleidoscopic exhibit planned by arts-tech firm

File - In this July 14, 2017, file photo, recent high school graduates Abbigail Deason and Grace Branscum, both 18, of Oklahoma City relax inside Meow Wolf's mazelike exhibition space in Santa Fe, N.M. Creators of a popular immersive art entertainment project in Santa Fe, N.M, are expanding to a major metropolitan market with plans for an interactive exhibit and music venue on a wedge of highway-side property in an industrial stretch of downtown Denver. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee, File)
File - In this July 14, 2017, file photo, Caryn Saeger, 28, of Delta, Ohio, and her 2-year-old daughter Chloe explore Meow Wolf's mazelike exhibition space in Santa Fe, N.M. Creators of a popular immersive art entertainment project in Santa Fe, are expanding to a major metropolitan market with plans for an interactive exhibit and music venue on a wedge of highway-side property in an industrial stretch of downtown Denver. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee, File)

SANTA FE, N.M. — Creators of a popular immersive art entertainment project in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Thursday announced a push into a major metropolitan market with plans for an interactive exhibit and music venue in downtown Denver.

The for-profit arts company Meow Wolf said it will launch the new business venture to build a kaleidoscopic walk- and crawl-through exhibit for all ages, under a 20-year lease in partnership with Denver-based commercial real estate developer Revesco Properties. It operates a nearby urban amusement park.

A new five-story building, spanning an area larger than a football field, is scheduled for completion in an industrial neighborhood by early 2020, offering the offbeat public attraction near stadiums for Denver's major league sports teams, the Children's Museum of Denver and the city's Downtown Aquarium.

The Denver venture will provide a major financial and creative test for Meow Wolf and its growing staff of about 200 artists, technicians and project developers. CEO Vince Kadlubek describes them as the "corporate version of an art collective."

He estimated overall investment will reach $30 million or more and compared it to the budget of a major motion picture.

Meow Wolf plans to seek additional investors later this year in an offering that could involve equity in the company or debt obligations or both.

The company last year raised nearly $1 million by selling off-exchange shares to employees and small-scale internet investors to fuel its expansion and equip a manufacturing and video production facility in Santa Fe.

In Santa Fe, the company invented a new brand of family entertainment that combines eye-popping psychedelic design work that lends itself to shared images on social media with narrative storytelling.

Ben Davis, a national art critic for artnet News, said Meow Wolf has succeeded in creating a new model for big, fun visual entertainment that borrows from science fantasy and thriller films and rewards visitors as they explore labyrinthine exhibits.

Scaling up high-tech exhibits for larger audiences will likely put the business in competition with museums and theme parks that have major financial resources, he said.

Artistic details of the Denver exhibit remained largely a mystery because the company did not disclose specifics. The attraction will be three times larger than the Santa Fe project.

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Peipert reported from Denver.

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