A Quick History

€œArt has rescued this state from the commonplace and made it conscious of its own fine character.€<br />€” Edgar Lee Hewett

Date January 15, 2009 at 11:00 PM

Categories Local News & Sports


The Governor€™s Gallery kicks off 100 years of museums and monuments with a timelined sampling of treasures and photographs.

Each of the state€™s four museums and six monuments contributed objects and images to the fourth floor space in the Roundhouse.

Considered the largest in the country, the sprawling state museum system was founded in 1909 at the Palace of the Governors three years before New Mexico€™s statehood by Territorial Legislation House Bill 100.

€œThis is the super-condensed Reader€™s Digest version€ of that history, Governor€™s Gallery curator Merry Scully said.

€œIt was a big challenge,€ she continued. €œIt€™s a complicated history that interacts with other institutions. It grew into what we now know as the Department of Cultural Affairs.€ Visitors can see archaeologist and Museum of New Mexico founder Edgar Lee Hewett€™s pith helmet and monogrammed trowel, as well as his portable field desk.

€œIt has his personal stationery,€ Scully said. €œIt has his School of American Research stationery and it has his stationery from the University of Southern California and his fountain pens.€

By 1917, I.H. and William M. Rapp had designed and built the New Mexico Museum of Art (formerly the Museum of Fine Arts), based on the architects€™ buildings at the Panama-California Exposition in 1915. Its Pueblo Revival towers and vigas launched what has come to be known €“€“ and insufferably mimicked €“€“ as €œSanta Fe style.€ The building combines aspects of several Southwestern regional motifs, including designs from the facades of the Spanish mission churches at Acoma, Laguna and San Felipe pueblos.

Founded in 1953, the Museum of International Folk Art provided the Governor€™s Gallery with two versions of Santo Niño, the Roman Catholic depiction of the infant Jesus popular in the Southwest, especially in New Mexico.

Marion Martinez constructed a shiny €œSanto Niño de Atocha€ (2001/02) from computer circuit boards, wire, wood, ribbon and cable, marrying traditional and high-tech components into a 21st century hybrid. Juan Sanchez constructed his traditional santo, €œChrist Child Enthroned (Niño Escondido),€ from wood, blue, gesso, paint, glass and wire in the 1930s.

A polychrome pot by Maria Martinez crowns the offerings from the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture. The great potter modeled her full-scale designs after prehistoric works excavated by Hewett near San Ildefonso Pueblo. Martinez coiled her own examples for the museum and launched a career that would take her to the World€™s Fair and the White House.

Slated for a Memorial Day opening, the History Museum is providing the inaugural dress worn by Carrie Tingley, wife of New Mexico Gov. Clyde Tingley (1935-38). The rich purple and blue velvet gown sparkles with a rhinestone and glass belt.

Seven pueblo paintings from the Dorothy Dunn collection include works by Joe Herrera (Cochiti Pueblo, €œElk Dance,€ ca. 1947), known for his dance figures and abstractions, and Manuel Trujillo (San Juan/Ohkay Owingeh, €œDeer Dance,€ ca. 1938). In the mid-1920s, Dunn helped establish the art studio at the Santa Fe Indian School. Dunn insisted her students use Native American subjects and a flat, two-dimensional style, which to her yielded authentic representations of a culture free from foreign influence. During the formation of the Institute of American Indian Arts, critics challenged this once-accepted definition as a hindrance to creativity.

From the Museum of International Folk Art comes Swedish needlework donated by museum founder Florence Dibble Bartlett.

Dating to 1802, the textile is comprised of painting, silk and gouache on linen. Dibble Bartlett established the museum with 2,500 objects from more than 100 countries.

€œThe Folk Art Museum is one of the largest museums of its kind in the country,€ Scully said. €œShe was a visionary who spent a lot of her time here and donated her substantial collection.€

Early Spanish Colonial furniture from the New Mexico Museum of Art includes a Pueblo Revival chest based on designs found at Acoma Pueblo.

Founded in 1975, the Governor€™s Gallery is an outreach facility of the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Department of Cultural Affairs, providing an average of six exhibitions annually. Its first exhibition featured the paintings of Georgia O€™Keeffe. The gallery will host a public reception on Feb. 19, New Mexico Culture Day.

If You Go

WHAT: 100 Years of the Museum of New Mexico
WHERE: Governor€™s Gallery, the Roundhouse, Fourth Floor, at the intersection of Old Santa Fe Trail and Paseo de Peralta
WHEN: Through March 22
COST: Free
CONTACT: 476-2289