04 January 2023 / Last updated: 04 Jan 2023

Meow Wolf: Running smart art exhibitions with balena

Technology has opened many doors, and the art world has taken notice. Meow Wolf is a collective of artistic creators using groundbreaking technology to create unique and breathtaking artistic experiences empowered by IoT.
Meow wolf art installation using balena devices

Who are Meow Wolf?

Founded in 2008 in New Mexico, Meow Wolf operates interactive art experiences in Santa Fe, Denver, and Las Vegas. Their installations combine architecture, visual art, music, secret passageways, interactive digital experiences, and storytelling. Underpinning these unique installations are roughly 100 hidden Raspberry Pi devices running balenaOS. Visitors interact with the exhibitions using digital screens, speakers, and LEDs attached to these interconnected devices.
We spoke with Meow Wolf’s Jerome, a Design Technologist, and Becky, a Product Manager, about their experience with balena. Jerome was looking for a user-friendly global system manager while on the cusp of unveiling two new exhibitions. In balena, Jerome found exactly what Meow Wolf needed. He was able to quickly and easily deploy Meow Wolf’s devices using Docker. The exhibitions opened on schedule, cementing Meow Wolf’s partnership with balena.
Day to day, balena allows the small team of engineers at Meow Wolf to innovate and design new experiences while simplifying and streamlining their tech operators’ duties. Becky said: “balena is one system that allows us to remotely control devices so we don’t have to go onto the floor, open up a cabinet with a key, and climb around and press a power button somewhere. Our tech operators can just send a digital signal from their back office and their device will be working again.”
Meow wolf art installation using balena devices

How balena supports a large team

In fact, a favorite feature of Becky’s is the flexibility of the platform to support any team size. With tech operators onsite running the exhibitions twelve hours a day and developers working on exhibit experiences remotely, Meow Wolf has a large team regularly using balenaCloud. Balena offers different layers of account access, which allows Meow Wolf’s tech operators to securely perform functional tasks such as resetting devices and accessing logs within the balenaCloud dashboard.
This allows Meow Wolf’s internal developers to spend more time building new installations and less time solving technical problems that balena already addresses. Becky said, “From an operational perspective, it makes it so easy, and it makes it scalable. I don’t have to hire dozens of people to maintain this. I can have one person sitting in the office who can efficiently handle anything that comes up.”
With this feature, Meow Wolf can easily onboard and collaborate with new team members. Each new team member can gain access to their fleets and the staging environment all at once. Becky said, “I really love that there is this mindset of efficiency and scaling that always comes through.”

A collaborative partner for success

Tech Operators first started using the balena customer support tools to keep the day-to-day operations running smoothly. Jerome said, “The support is always really great. The balena support agents gave a quick, detailed fix for a failing release. They did some really deep research to figure out exactly how to help.”
The whole Meow Wolf team now reaches for balena’s customer support whenever any roadblocks arise As Becky said, “I really love that balena’s support is well trained and technical. The first thing I do is reach out to technical support because I know they are going to figure it out. It really feels like balena is a collaborative partner in making our experience successful”. We pride ourselves on our support at balena, the same engineers who build balena day-in and day-out are the same people working to help our users succeed via our support channels.
The Meow Wolf team is looking forward to continued collaboration with balena with several new, unique exhibitions already in development.
Want to try out balena for yourself? Sign up here!
by Lizzie EptonMarketing Manager at balena