In October 1997 when Grapevine Mills first opened, a young Matt King watched it happen firsthand.

Now, the Meow Wolf co-founder and senior creative director will have a hand in bringing the company’s immersive art experience to the mall as one of two permanent exhibitions in Texas. Its fourth and fifth locations in the country will be built in Grapevine Mills and Houston’s Fifth Ward, according to a May 11 press release from the Santa Fe-based company.

“I could not be happier to bring Meow Wolf back to the place that I grew up to be a positive addition to my first community,” said King, an Arlington native.

Meow Wolf will take over the former location of Bed, Bath & Beyond inside the mall, filling a 40,340-square-foot space, according to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. The exhibit is slated to open sometime in 2023, with an exact month not known yet, said Jennifer Sinski, a spokesperson for the company.

“This is going to be yet another really unique entertainment destination for visitors from all over the world,” said Larry Holt, city of Grapevine director of economic development.

At its core, Meow Wolf is an arts and entertainment company that focuses on creating immersive and interactive experiences that “transport” visitors into stories and exploration, according to its website. The company works with local artists and its full-time artists on staff to create interactive and diverse exhibits.

Meow Wolf began in 2008 as an informal, do-it-yourself aggregate of Santa Fe artists, the website states. Its name came during the first meeting with the collective of artists, where all present put two words into a hat. Then, two words were randomly chosen from the hat: “meow” and “wolf.”

Each location has a different theme and a different look. Meow Wolf opened its first permanent art exhibition in 2016 in Santa Fe called “House of Eternal Sun,” according to the website. It opened permanent locations in Las Vegas in February 2021 and Denver in September 2021. The Las Vegas location is called “Omega Mart,” while the Denver location is referred to as “Convergence Station.” Those three locations combined logged more than 2 million visitors last year, according to the company.

“Fast forward to today, and we have grown that little art collective into a pioneer of the immersive arts and entertainment industry with a mission to build community through art,” King said.

All of Meow Wolf’s locations—existing and upcoming—are open for all ages, Sinski said. Tickets prices vary at its existing locations from $35 to $55. Sinski said admission fees for the Grapevine Mills location are not yet known.

As the company expands its reach, Meow Wolf CEO Jose Tolosa said in the release that Texas “holds the keys” to Meow Wolf’s next chapter.

“Opening a permanent exhibition in the largest and one of the most diverse states in the country has been on Meow Wolf’s radar for years, and we are excited to be formally underway,” Tolosa said in the release. “The opportunities this state has presented have already become the touchstones of a vibrant, arts-centric portal of imaginative creativity.”

Why Grapevine Mills?

Aside from King’s connection to the mall, Dale Sheehan, Meow Wolf’s executive creative director, said Grapevine Mills was chosen because it “holds no bounds to what” the company wants to do. It is also the company’s first opening in a mall, he said.

“Malls, in general, are obviously under a huge transition right now and have a lot of potential to hopefully not just become wastelands that are vacant or demolished, but actually become something that they weren’t before—something the community wants and needs now,” Sheehan said.

Sinski said another reason the company chose Grapevine Mills is because it already includes interactive attractions, such as Legoland Discovery Center, Sea Life Grapevine Aquarium, Round One Entertainment, Fieldhouse USA and Peppa Pig World of Play.

“We are really big fans of Meow Wolf and the concept and what they bring to the community,” said Trudy Cresswell, who is the director of marketing and business development for Grapevine Mills. “By collaborating with them, we’re able to further enhance the unique dynamic entertainment portfolio that we have here at Grapevine Mills.”

In addition, Cresswell said Meow Wolf will bring in new customers or even those who have not been to the mall in a while, which will benefit existing entertainment experiences.

“Through their discovery of Meow Wolf, they’re going to uncover additional interactive experiences that we have,” Cresswell said. “We have this robust wealth of family-oriented entertainment options, and Meow Wolf is gonna bring in this brand new audience for the entire grouping of our entertainment options.”

As far as the decision to open two locations in Texas, Sheehan said Meow Wolf has always had a “partnership and kinship” with Texas, as many of its artists are from the state.

“We get a lot of intermingling between our states, and there’s a lot of cool, art-driven culture in Texas that we’re excited to ... hopefully contribute to,” Sheehan said.

Holt said the addition of Meow Wolf to Grapevine Mills is just another example of how the city “has had a real focus on unique experiences.”

“We are acutely aware as a premium, North Texas destination that people want more than just food or shopping—they want an experience,” Holt said.

Darlene Freed, Grapevine City Council mayor pro tem and Place 4 representative, said Meow Wolf will “be a great thing for employment” throughout the city.

She noted that another important aspect of Meow Wolf coming to the mall is that “not every owner of a mall would be open-minded to do something this unique.”

“Grapevine Mills deserves a lot of credit for their willingness to think out of the box continuously with us,” Freed said. “When malls are dying, this mall is thriving.”

A benefit corporation

Meow Wolf is registered as a public-benefit corporation and certified as a benefit corporation, or B corp. This designation is for a for-profit company that considers additional stakeholders along with shareholder profit, according to the official Benefit Corporation website.

Registering as a benefit corporation essentially gives companies a way to protect their missions and values, the website states. Meow Wolf is the only certified benefit corporation in the themed entertainment industry, according to the company’s May 11 press release.

Meow Wolf was first certified as a benefit corporation in 2017 and recertified in 2021, according to its website. The certifications are done independently, based on a third-party assessment of the company’s policies and actions, including social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

The company focuses on five areas as a benefit corporation: governance, workers, community, environment and customers, the website states.

When it comes to employees, one of the ways Meow Wolf meets its vision of contributing to their well-being is with its companywide minimum wage of $17 an hour.

Meow Wolf also helps the community by donating to nonprofits and ensuring its exhibitions are designed for all abilities.

As a benefit corporation that also focuses on environmental impacts, Sheehan said choosing a mall with an existing space that could be reused was another factor in its decision to open in Grapevine Mills.

“[Meow Wolf] takes [being a benefit corporation] really seriously, and a lot of work goes into it,” Sheehan said. “And it’s not easy. There is a tremendous amount of extra work or extra attention and communication that has to go into not doing the easy thing.”

Boost for local artists

A significant part of Meow Wolf’s overall mission is working with local artists to ensure they have a platform to share their work, according to Sheehan.

“Collaboration with outside artists, collaboration with local artists, collaboration with emerging artists and underserved communities of artists is paramount to what we do,” Sheehan said. “It’s a huge priority.”

The arts and entertainment company plans to begin recruiting artists and staff this summer, the May 11 release states. Those interested are encouraged to follow Meow Wolf’s Instagram and Twitter accounts; monitor its website; or sign up at

“One of the most exciting aspects of Meow Wolf coming to Grapevine Mills is they work with local and emerging artists right here in Texas to help craft that experience,” Cresswell said. “Those here that are yet to be discovered might be discovered here through Meow Wolf.”

When it comes to the types of artists Meow Wolf looks for, Sheehan said “nothing’s off the table, by nature.” However, the exhibitions tend to focus on visual mediums, such as paintings and sculptures. The company also looks for light artists who work in digital and electronic interactives.

“It’s not just a picture on a wall,” Freed said. “It opens up an opportunity for people that are artisans that are not your sort of typical, standard perceived artists.”

Because the art is done with as few restrictions as possible, Sheehan said there are a few things people should know when they walk into a Meow Wolf location for the first time.

“Expect the unexpected, [and] expect to play,” Sheehan said. “Expect to leave realizing you had no idea what you were getting into, and please ... just come with the intention of having a good time with yourself, with your friends and family, and with strangers.”