Summer 2021 Tour Santa Fe, New Mexico Episode 3: Museum Hill

New Mexico Indian Art and Culture Museum (MIAC)

A rainy day sent us out to explore the museums on Museum Hill. The New Mexico Indian Art and Culture Museum was our first stop. Sadly, the museum did not allow photos. As I walked inside, I wondered how I would remember my visit if I had no photos as evidence. Photos trigger my memory about the day, the weather, our experiences, and other details. I worried I’d have nothing to say without them.

Glad they couldn’t stop me from taking photos outside.

Craig Dan Goseyun’s Mountain Spirit Dancer

Here is what I remember from the inside:

  • Silver and turquoise rings, necklaces, earrings, and belts nestled in glass display cases with little cards detailing the date, cost, and location purchased. Native Americans created all the items, and a curator purchased them through trading posts.
  • The Clearly Indigenous: Native Visions Reimagined in Glass exhibit featured 33 indigenous artists, and work from Dale Chihuly who, according to the museum’s website, “introduced glass art to Indian Country.”
Costume detail

Individual pieces drew me in and my shutter finger itched to take a photo or two or three or more on the sly. All that’s left in my memory are vague words like beautiful, gorgeous, fantastic, and how-did-they-do-that. Those words lack the specificity needed to evoke emotion, so I lean on photos to reveal the story and elicit meaning. Perhaps a sketch might work the same.

Boot Detail

Although MIAC opened its doors to the public in 1987, its history began 78 years earlier when anthropologist Edgar Lee Hewett founded the Museum of New Mexico. In 1947, the museum merged with the Laboratory of Anthropology, founded by John D. Rockefeller in 1927 to study Southwest indigenous cultures. It took thirty more years for the New Mexico state legislature to appropriate $2.7 million for the museum’s design.

Allan Houser’s Singing Heart
George Rivera’s Lightning Boy

The tiny sliver of objects on display during our visit, along with art created by contemporary artists, gave us only a glimpse of the treasures MIAC has collected over the past 112 years. We hope to see more during a visit in the future. Maybe I can learn to sketch before then. The result doesn’t have to be gallery worthy, only enough to trigger my memory.

Museum of International Folk Art (MIFA)

Across the courtyard is the Museum of International Folk Art. Visitors have Florence Dibell Bartlett to thank for this museum. She founded MIFA with her 1953 donation of 2,500 craft items. Her vision and funding of the building was the seedling needed to support a collection that has grown to more than 130,000 pieces of folk and traditional art created throughout the world.

Wall of masks
Sign of the Times
Hunger grows as they wait
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, which one can I take home
Clash of costumes
Guitar face
Scary creatures in this exhibit

With five wings to explore, visitors are sure to find something engaging from among the ceramics, costumes, jewelry, paintings, and wood carvings. My camera made up for the lost opportunity at MIAC, clicking away to capture the colorful objects.

Santa Fe Botanical Garden

We avoided the afternoon monsoon by visiting Santa Fe Botanical Garden in the morning. The garden is a relatively new addition to Museum Hill. First, the City of Santa Fe offered a long-term lease of 11 acres in December 2006.

Raya Friday’s People of the Fire
A place to rest under weathered steel

Over the next five years, landscape architect W. Gary Smith created a master plan, and the city launched an intensive review process with final approval in 2011. An additional three acres were added, and in July 2013, the garden opened to the public.

Lavender abounds
Greg Reiche Sentinel II
Greg Reiche’s Wind Song

Subsequently, additional leases and work over the years expanded the garden to 20.5 acres. The newest project, Pinon-Juniper Woodland, opened in 2021.

Take the picture already
Kearney’s Gap Bridge

It must have been the season for glass displays like we saw at MIAC. The garden’s current art exhibition, Capturing the Light, featured several glass art works strategically positioned among the plants and flowers.

Piñon Juniper Woodland, the newest addition to the garden
A gate is not just a gate at the garden, it’s art
On the trail

We found the botanical garden a delightful place to wander around, exploring the varieties of trees, shrubs, flowers, succulents, and cacti.

Mojave Sage
The Gathering Place

Weldon’s Museum Hill Café serves lunch from 11 to 2 Wednesdays through Sunday. We can’t vouch for the food or service because they were closed before we were ready for lunch.

Next up: Santa Fe Railyard Arts District

6 thoughts on “Summer 2021 Tour Santa Fe, New Mexico Episode 3: Museum Hill

  1. All three places sound like something I would very much enjoy. The MIAC – while there weren’t pictures – sounds amazing. Was there a gift shop? Perhaps offering a book to purchase or postcards? I realize postcards are perhaps, mostly, a thing of the past. In any case, your post has me adding Sante Fe Museum Hill to my ever growing list of places I’d love to see.

    Liked by 1 person

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