Where the past meets the present
New Mexico’s newest – and oldest – museum
The New Mexico History Museum sweeps across five centuries of stories that made the American West – from early Native inhabitants to Spanish colonists, Santa Fe Trail riders, outlaws, the railroad, artists, scientists, hippies and more. This 96,000-square-foot building became the state’s newest museum in May 2009, joining the state’s oldest museum, the 400-year-old Palace of the Governors, a National Historic Landmark.
(And, yes, one ticket gets you into both buildings.)
Within the History Museum’s 3½ levels, you’ll find artifacts, photos, paintings, maps, mini-movies and hands-on computer interactives. Get your bearings on what happened where and when in New Mexico with the main exhibit, Telling New Mexico: Stories from Then and Now. Check out what’s new in our second-floor Changing Exhibitions Gallery. Stay for vibrant lectures, workshops and performances that complement the museum experience.
Stepping into the Palace Courtyard, you’ll see the Palace Press, a combination exhibit and working press in rooms that once held the stables for the Palace of the Governors. The Palace Press is a renowned hub of book arts activity in Santa Fe. Its exhibits include the first press to arrive at the Palace in 1834 and a re-creation of famed artist Gustave Baumann's print studio.
Enter the Palace, the 17th-century seat of Spain’s northern colony in the Americas. History breathes within its thick adobe walls. In 1909, it became the state’s first museum. Among its exhibits: the 18th century Segesser Hides and the hand-crafted bultosand retablosof Tesoros de Devoción.
For the museum’s most well-known and most interactive program, head out to the portal on the Palace’s south wall. Dozens of Native American artists display and sell their handmade arts and crafts there every day. The artisans adhere to tradition and authenticity with their work.
Also part of the museum campus (and open to the public) are the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library and the Photo Archives at the Palace of the Governors. Housed in a building that was original the Women’s Board of Trade Library and then the Santa Fe Public Library, it features a marvelous WPA mural by Olive Rush.The library holds approximately 40,000 book and serials titles, 6,000 maps, 2,000 microfilms, and 600 linear feet of archival material, including newspapers from around the state. The Photo Archives is closing in on 1 million images that emphasize the history of New Mexico, the American West, indigenous peoples, anthropology, archaeology, ethnology, mining, railroads, agriculture, as well as images from many areas of the world. Some 16,000 of the images are digitized and can be key-word searched at http://econtent.unm.edu/cdm4/indexpg.php.
Be sure to stop in the museum’s two shops, featuring books, jewelry and art by New Mexico artists.