When: July 5, August 5 & September 13
Location: The Downs at Santa Fe
New Mexico History Museum's 5th Birthday Party
Admission: Free to the public
Outside of cowboy boots and a pony, what does pretty much every five year old want on their birthday? A party! And that’s just what the New Mexico History Museum is throwing on May 25. With the help of volunteers, visitors and community partners, we’ve accomplished great things since opening in 2009. How better to say “thanks” than to invite everyone over for old-time games, a tea party, hands-on activities and more.
The first treat: Through the generosity of La Fonda on the Plaza, the day is free to everyone.
Join us from 1–4 pm on Sunday, May 25, for “Come Out and Play,” a free birthday party and the debut of a new front-window installation, Toys and Games: A New Mexico Childhood, featuring dolls, toys, skates, sleds and more from the museum’s collections.
Activities at the party include games like hoop races, hopscotch and horse shoes in the Palace Courtyard; marbles and tops in the lobby. That's just the start. Children can take part in a tea party hosted by Girl Scout Troop 85 from Española (featuring a very popular brand of cookies). Everyone can make a miniature adobe brick with the help of Cornerstones Community Partnership. In honor of all the hands it took to build the museum, visit the craft station to create a keepsake handprint. Enjoy refreshments courtesy of Los Compadres del Palacio, a key support group of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation.
“As the interim director, I would like to invite you to come to the museum, share the pride in what we have done, and help us party like we are five years old—because we are,” said Jon Hunner. “Former Director Fran Levine, along with many friends, partners, legislators, and Department of Cultural Affairs’ staff, have grown the new wing of the History Museum into a healthy institution that has welcomed over 500,000 visitors to our permanent and numerous temporary exhibits. That took a lot of planning, fundraising, and dreaming.”
Toys and Games, the front-window installation, took form when museum staff dreamed about their fifth birthdays and wondered what might lie in the collection vault’s toybox. Meredith Davidson, curator of 19th- and 20th-century Southwest collections, found wind-up metal toys, marbles, tops, stuffed animals and dolls that ranged from 19th-century gems to Josefina, an American Girl doll created in 1997 with a New Mexico backstory.
But it was a little one-eyed elephant with a red stitched saddle that captured her heart. “He seemed to be smiling up at us,” she said.
An 1883 carte de visite taken in Europe showed a young Amelia Hollenback clutching just such an elephant, and the connection was sealed.
“The elephant, like the Hollenback family, journeyed to the United States a few years later and remained a part of the family until it was donated to our collection,” Davidson said. “The photograph and the elephant, to me, point to the way we document our own history through photographs, through keepsakes, and through memories. So often exhibits look at the world from an adult’s perspective. This gave us the chance to see the collection from a child’s viewpoint.”