Wanted: Your Opinion on “The Threads of Memory”

ElHiloXbtDid you take a spin through The Threads of Memory: Spain and the United States (El Hilo de la Memoria: España y los Estados Unidos)? If so, we could use your help.

With a little help from Survey Monkey, we’ve devised eight short questions that will help guide us in future exhibits and satisfy some requirements for grants and the like.

It’s fast. It’s easy. And it’s a way of doing your part for a museum we know you love. Click here to get started – and thank you from everyone who toiled away on the exhibit.

Eating Up History: New Mexico’s Classic Restaurants

Sugars72_4x5From Pappas Sweet Shop in Raton to Sparky’s in Hatch, the Bibo Bar in Cibola County to Sugar’s BBQ and Hamburgers in Dixon, New Mexico eateries have weathered tough times to tempt the palates of generations. At 2 pm on Sunday, Feb. 13, culinary explorer Cheryl Alters Jamison shares her on-the-road discoveries of places that helped define the tastiest part of our state’s heritage.

“Still Cooking: New Mexico’s Historic Diners, Chile Joints, and Burger Bars” is free with admission (Sundays free to NM residents). To jump-start your own gastro-adventure, we’ll share some special deals from some of the state’s longest-serving restaurants. Hit the highway or walk down the street to enjoy New Mexico’s home-style cooking and partake of our historic traditions.

During her 30 years in New Mexico, Jamison has eaten from border to border – while taking careful notes. She helped develop and continues to work on the New Mexico Tourism Department’s culinary trails initiatives (the Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail and the Culinary Adventures Trail).  With her husband, Bill, she’s a four-time James Beard award-winning author who has written numerous books on food and travel, including the upcoming Tasting New Mexico: 100 Years of New Mexican Cooking (Museum of New Mexico Press, 2012). Jamison teaches at the Santa Fe School of Cooking and appears as a guest instructor nationally and in France’s Dordogne region. She can discuss the finer points of smoking a turkey with Bobby Flay, show Matt Lauer how to make French toast, or argue with anyone about why New Mexican food ranks supreme among regional cooking styles.

4-culinary_Sparkys72Throughout the state’s history, New Mexicans have nurtured a love affair with their restaurants. Jamison will pull on heartstrings like the Taco Boxes in Portales and Clovis and reveal which Las Cruces restaurant is famous for its steak fingers and chicken-fried steak (served with green chile, of course). Do you know how Maria’s in Santa Fe got its start? Do you know where in Albuquerque can you get a green chile cheeseburger with egg fu yung? What differentiates New Mexico cooking styles in the north and south? Come to the lecture to find out.

Some 20 years ago, when Cheryl and Bill Jamison were writing travel guides, they took on a project that became The Rancho De Chimayó Cookbook. Turning their attention to the serious side of barbecue and grilling, they wrote The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking & Entertaining, Born to Grill, and the landmark Smoke & Spice, which has sold close to 1 million copies. The Jamisons also have played a leading role in the revival of good, robust American cooking with American Home Cooking, A Real American Breakfast, and The Border Cookbook. To write Around the World in 80 Dinners: The Ultimate Culinary Adventure, the couple cashed in 440,000 frequent-flyer miles and spent three months traveling the globe in search of great food.

JamisonMug72_1x2Jamison works as culinary consultant with the New Mexico Tourism Department and the New Mexico History Museum. She also consults on outdoor kitchen design with interior designer Barbara Templeman, through their business insideOUTsantafe. She is a board member of Cooking with Kids, one of the country’s first programs that addressed getting good food into our schools, and was a recipient of the University of Illinois’s alumni achievement award in 2007. Bill Jamison is retired from saving the world and keeps their lives in order from their home in Tesuque.

Honoring Those Who Served – and Still Serve – on the USS “New Mexico”

Gunnery personnel aboard the USS New Mexico, 1942-45? US Navy photograph, courtesy of the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives.

Gunnery personnel aboard the USS New Mexico (1942-45?). US Navy photograph, courtesy of the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives.

They were young then, boys, really. Serving aboard what was then the most technologically advanced battleship in the US fleet, they saw some of the worst of World War II – and were there for the final surrender of Japan.

On Sunday, Jan. 23, the New Mexico History Museum paid tribute to “the Queen of the Fleet,” and to the men (and, soon, women) who serve on the new USS New Mexico, now fittingly the Navy’s most technologically advanced nuclear submarine.

With the opening of A Noble Legacy: The USS New Mexico, 270-some people came to the museum to view the lobby-area installation and hear from dignitaries – among them, George Perez, commander of the submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 779).

It was a day when the most honored people in the house were men in blue caps. Some of them were balding, some were gray and some were young(ish). Military bearing was the order of the day, and the phrase, “Thank you for your service,” was heard again and again.

Ret. Chief Warrant Officer George Smith, who served on the USS New Mexico (BB 40) battleship in World War II, traveled from his home near Philadelphia to speak during the opening ceremony. He recounted with humor his efforts to become a submarine man and choked up not only himself but everyone in the auditorium with how closely he came to joining the many men who lost their lives in World War II.

“My tenure on the New Mexico was one of the finest tours I had in the Navy,” he said. “That was the white-hat Navy. When they went ashore they were neat and clean, and they weren’t in the Zumwalt uniform.”

(In the 1970s, then-Chief of Naval Operations Elmo Zumwalt attempted to encourage more enlistments by ditching the WW2-era Navy blues for a more casual look. Met with derision, it lasted only five years. Author Paul Fussell writes of the switch here.)

“There were no baseball caps worn with the bill in the back,” Smith said. “That didn’t happen. The New Mexico was a clean ship. If you were one minute late coming back from liberty, you stayed aboard for two weeks. They knew what the rules were and they followed it. I’m proud to have served two years on that ship.”

GeorgeSmithSigningPosterThe audience gave Smith a standing ovation and, after the event, clustered around him for autographs on posters of the submarine.

Cmdr. Perez, his bearing both dignified and genial, regaled the audience with details of his new ship, which is running through trials now and will join the Navy fleet in late 2012.

“She is the most powerful warship ever built in the history of the US Navy, probably second only to the BB 40 – which isn’t bad,” he said to laughter.

“We are New Mexico,” he said. “If you descended on that warship today, you would know. We are constantly working to continue to build that relationship. We prefer to have the Land of Enchantment anywhere we can get the pieces inside.”

That includes Southwestern-themed curtains that close across the crewmates’ bunks, provided to the ship by members of the Navy League Council of New Mexico, the group that lobbied for five years to have the sub named for the state.

Clearly proud of his ship, Cmdr. Perez delivered a tantalizing offer to those at the event: “Everyone here has an opportunity to get on board. Just show up and show me a New Mexico driver’s license, and you’ll get on board.”

But then, he noted, it is currently at home port in Groton, Ct., where “there’s about three or four feet of snow on the ground, so this isn’t the time to do it.”

PerezMurphyPointingToFigureAs for bringing it to our high-desert state, Perez noted, “There’s no port to pull into here. I did get offered a Lexus if I could navigate up the Rio Grande.”

(As a consolation prize to the Lexus, museum Director Dr. Frances Levine presented Cmdr. Perez and Chief of Board Eric Murphy with copies of the book Telling New Mexico: A New History and jars of History Museum red-chile sauce, prepared by the legendary Shed restaurant in Santa Fe.)

Perez and Murphy stayed after the event to speak with visitors, and Perez was clearly charmed by one particular aspect of the installation. Facing walls of a hallway are bedecked with silhouettes of the two ships at 1/20th scale. The exhibition’s graphics designer, Natalie Baca, added a last-minute detail to the SSN 779 silhouette: An image of Perez himself taken from a photograph she found on the internet and placed on the submarine to show its scale relative to people. Perez and Murphy proudly posed next to it for family photographs snapped by their wives.

FamilyModelA highlight of the installation is a scale model of BB 40 begun 30 years ago by Navy veteran and Albuquerque resident Cecil Whitson. Fellow Navy veteran Keith Liotta and the Albuquerque Scale Modelers Club added final touches after an illness stopped Whitson’s work, and all day, families with children, Navy veterans and model-building aficionados clustered around it, admiring the intricacy of Whitson’s work. Some of the most enthusiastic applause at the opening ceremony was when Levine asked the audience to extend its “collective gratitude” to Whitson.

The early plan for the installation included one of BB 40’s helms, now ensconced at the University of New Mexico and at the Montoya Building in Santa Fe.  “But they’re built into the fabric of the buildings,” Levine said, “and demolition wasn’t in our budget.”

What is included are archival and contemporary photographs of both ships and a video produced by KNME, USS New Mexico BB40: The Drinan Diary. You can catch it by clicking on the link, but the experience of seeing it on the auditorium’s big screen provided the emotional highlight of the day.

“What museums do matters,” Levine told attendees. “We give voice to people who lived in different centuries in times of peace, in times of war.”

On Sunday, we also put faces to those stories and were honored to be a place where Navy men and women could make new connections with one another. As a gift to those who continue to serve aboard USS New Mexico, we’ll close this post with a collection of photos to let them virtually attend the event. We wish them calm waters and extend an offer of our own: If you’re ever in Santa Fe, we’ll meet you at The Shed.

Collections Manager Wanda Edwards with a pre-WW2, sharkskin-handled sword.

Collections Manager Wanda Edwards with a pre-WW2, sharkskin-handled sword.

Visitors at Cecil Whitson's model of the BB 40.

Visitors at Cecil Whitson's model of the BB 40.

Cmdr. George Perez and Ret. CWO George Smith at the opening ceremony.

Cmdr. George Perez and Ret. CWO George Smith at the opening ceremony.

Former BB 40 crewmate LaVell Richins shared a scrapbook of his service, brought from his home in Utah.

Former BB 40 crewmate LaVell Richins shared a scrapbook of his service, brought from his home in Utah.

Two Navy veterans make a connection at the event.

Two Navy veterans make a connection.

Young visitors checking out parts of a 1920s era uniform worn aboard BB 40.

Young visitors check out parts of a 1920s era uniform worn aboard BB 40.

Ret. CWO George Smith pointing to the place on the BB 40 model where he was stationed during WW2.

Ret. CWO George Smith points to the place on the BB 40 model where he was stationed during WW2.

Cmdr. George Perez greeting visitors in the New Mexico History Museum lobby.

Cmdr. George Perez greets visitors in the New Mexico History Museum lobby.

Cmdr. Perez with BB 40 veterans James Kennedy (from left), George Smith and LaVell Richins.

Cmdr. Perez with BB 40 veterans James Kennedy (from left), George Smith and LaVell Richins

The Palace Elves

WandaPatrickPennieHistory Museum staffers morphed into Santa’s elves this week to doll up the 400-year-old Palace of the Governors for this Friday’s Christmas at the Palace event. (That’s Collection Manager and Registrar Wanda Edwards and NEH Project Manager Patrick Cruz workin’ the lights on a tree, at left; and their coworker, Assistant Collection Manager Pennie McBride, at right.)

Over its 26 years as an annual event, Christmas at the Palace has become a community favorite in Santa Fe and, for many families, the true kick-off to the holiday season. The event begins with Native drummers beneath the Palace Portal, offering a welcome-to-the-Palace prayer. People gather to listen (and sometimes shiver as the snow falls) while awaiting the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Claus and their clutch of real elves. Then everyone enters the Palace (no admission fees tonight!) to wander the exhibits, listen to local performers, sample bizcochitos and hot cider, and take a turn on Santa’s knee.

On Monday, workers pulled hay bales into the Palace Courtyard in preparation for Santa’s arrival. Garlands were hung over Palace doorways, trees were decorated, and more than a few trips up and down rather tall ladders were required.

CarlaDavidOne of the favorite parts of the holiday decor is what Palace volunteers and staff think of as “Dee Johnson’s tree.” Before her untimely death, the former first lady of New Mexico gave the museum a collection of tree ornaments hand-crafted by New Mexico artisans.

“It always makes us think of her when we see them,” said Museum Director Frances Levine. “Because she was so kind to the Museum staff — and so kind to donate these ornaments.”

Made of clay, tin, wood and fabric, they include Mimbres designs, Indian pots, bells, Zia symbols, stars and and more. In perhaps a nod to former Gov. Gary Johnson, a flying pig is included. (During particularly testy negotiations with the Democratic Legislature, the Republican governor once opened a news conference by playing with a remote-controlled flying-pig toy, as if to say, “When pigs fly…”)

Dee Johnson’s tree is in what we call “The Green Room” — the room to the east of the Palace’s main entrance where the architectural history of the building is detailed.

VictorianDollOrnamentOther trees in the Palace include lovely Victorian ornaments, parrots and doves, reindeer, and a cathedral or two.

Bundle up the family and head to the Palace after work this Friday. The doors open at 5:30, but you can start gathering and enjoying your neighbors before then. Performers range from talented children to inspiring adults, including:

5:30-6 pm: Epik Artists of the Santa Fe Concert Association; music by Bach and Gounod. (The Epik Trio: Eric Illick and Sarah Rogowski, violins; Shelley Armer, viola. The Epik Chorus: Genevieve Davis, Alex Viszolay, Zoe Unverwerth, Faye Mathey, Sarah Luiz;  Ezra Shcolnick, violin; Shelley Armer, viola; Logan Luiz and Eric Illick, soloists.)

5:30-6:30 pm: Coro de Agua Fria. Traditional Christmas carols in Spanish in the Palace Courtyard.

5:30-6:30 pm: Santa Fe Talent Education Suzuki Music Center. Classical and Christmas music by youth violinists and violists. (Uttam Khalsa, Auleeyah Archuleta, Bacilio Benelalija, Naya Anllo-Valdo, Madelyn Kingston, Sarah Sze, Julia Baca, Lila Baca, Ellie Bobchak. Margaret Carpenter, teacher.)

6:40-7:30 pm: The Eclectics. A cappella carols, medieval to modern. (Meg Acton, Laura Cowan and Scott Geister.)

6:40-7:30 pm: Schola Cantorum. Santa Fe’s sacred music ensemble.

A Voice from the Governor’s Office Past Offers Wisdom for Today

On Tuesday, New Mexicans elected the nation’s first Hispanic woman governor. Regardless of your personal political leanings, that’s a historical milepost and, given that we’re in the business of celebrating our history, we’re taking the opportunity to remember another Hispanic who made history as governor of New Mexico.

A photo of Donaciano Vigil, taken by Albright Art Parlors, 188-82?. Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, No. 011405.

A photo of Donaciano Vigil, taken by Albright Art Parlors, 188-82?. Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, No. 011405.

Donaciano Vigil was the first native New Mexican Hispanic to serve as New Mexico governor after Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny raised the American flag over the Palace of the Governors. According to the State Historian’s web site: “(H)e was undoubtedly the most important native Hispanic leader in the transition of the Territory from Mexican to American government. His decision to support the American annexation of the New Mexico territory and join the new American sponsored government in 1847 helped ensure the status of New Mexico in the American nation and to assure the participation of Hispanos in that system. ”

In its July 3, 2010, edition, the Santa Fe New Mexican singled out Vigil as one of eight people critical to the preservation of the city’s heritage:

Born in Santa Fe in 1802, Donaciano Vigil chose when he turned 21 to make the military his career. After U.S. conquest of New Mexico in 1846, Vigil’s acceptance of American rule influenced other Hispanos to recognize the reality of the federal presence and calm largely political unrest in the territorial period. During the earlier Spanish colonial period, government and church officials were careful to preserve historical records. After arrival of the Americans, however, it fell to Vigil to champion the cause of saving historical records. As New Mexico’s first civil governor, Vigil organized archival records and made it his cause to preserve New Mexico’s history.

In its newsletter, distributed today, the Historical Society of New Mexico features a remembrance of Vigil by HSN President Mike Stevenson, who quoted a passage from Vigil’s speech to the first Territorial Legislature on Sept. 24, 1847. Stevenson thought, and we agree, that Vigil’s words have only grown more powerful in the 163 years since, as advice to those who would lead us and to we who are choosing those leaders:

If our government here is to be republican—if it is to be based upon democratic republican principles—and if the will of the majority is one day to be the law of the land and the government of the people, it is evident, for this will to be properly exercised, the people must be enlightened and instructed.  And it is particularly important in a country where the right of suffrage is accorded and secured to all, that all should be instructed, and that every[one] should be able to read to inform himself of the passing events of the day, and of the matters interesting to his country and government. This is the age of improvement, both in government and society, and it more particularly becomes us, when commencing as it were a new order of things, to profit by and promote such improvements, and they can only be encouraged and promoted by diffusing knowledge and instruction among the people…All that the legislature can do in the cause of education for the people is most earnestly pressed upon them and will meet with my hearty approval and cooperation. (Emphasis added.)

The Threads of Memory Weaves its Magic

ExteriorSign5x7Opening this weekend, The Threads of Memory: Spain and the United States (El Hilo de la Memoria: Espana y los Estados Unidos) weaves the story of Spain’s first 300 years in the Americas. The History Museum marks the U.S. debut of 138 rare and precious documents, maps, illustrations and paintings — but it’s only here until Jan. 9, 2011, so get it on your calendar. (You’ll also enjoy the 12 weeks of lectures, concerts and Chautauqua performances accompanying it; every one of them is free.)

On Thursday, we took a small group of journalists through the still-under-construction exhibit for a sneak peek. And we figured you deserved to ride along.

WorkersGeoWashington5x7Here, the installation crew buzzes in the part of the gallery where we’ve hung Giuseppe Perovani’s 1796 portrait of George Washington. Many Americans are unaware of the critical role Spain played in helping to win the Revolutionary War.  Perovani lived for several years in the United States and, in 1801, with the prestige he had earned, went to Cuba on contract with Archbishop Espejo to help decorate the Cathedral of Havana. He also worked as a teacher there and, afterward, moved back to Mexico, where he became an academic of merit and second director of painting in the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Carlos.

This portrait was likely commissioned by Jose de Jaudenes y Nebot, Spain’s representative in Philadelphia. Jaudenes knew Washington through Thomas Jefferson and had also been consulted on the negotiation of borders.

FranwDeAnza5x7Dr. Frances Levine (left), director of the museum, points to and talks about one of her favorite pieces in the exhibit,a 1786 agreement, hand-written in the Palace of the Governors, between Gov. Juan Bautista de Anza and Comanche Captain General Ecueracapa. The agreement laid out how much help de Anza would receive from the Comanches in an action against the Apaches.

Dr. Levine says that when she first saw the Threads of Memory exhibit in Sevilla, Spain, this particular document not only brought her to tears but convinced her to lobby for its American debut in Santa Fe. The fact that it was written in the same building that she works in every day carried special meaning, along with a deeper knowledge of the conditions that both colonists and Native peoples lived with.

MediaInXbtSome of the media members who came to our preview was the EFE News Agency of Spain, which is preparing a story for distribution across that nation this weekend.

MayorBeingInterviewedAmong EF’s interviews was one with Santa Fe Mayor David Coss. The city of Santa Fe, celebrating the 400th anniversary of its founding by Spanish colonists, played a key role in bringing the exhibit to life here.

JosefFranLaBelle5x7Dr. Levine and Josef Diaz, the museum’s curator of Southwest and Mexican Art and History, examine an illustration of La Belle. The image is the main “brand” of the exhibit; see it above as part of the exhibit title.)

La Belle, a ship, was part of an attempt by France to displace the spreading power of Spain on the lower Mississippi and what is now the American Southwest. The expedition was led by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, who left France with four ships to claim and colonize the area around the mouth of the Mississippi for France.  En route, one ship was lost to pirates, one ran aground, its cargo taken by local natives, and one returned to France. La Salle continued to sail La Belle but missed the Mississippi by some 400 miles, landing on the Gulf Coast, not far from what is now Corpus Christi. The ship was later lost in a storm with about 20 survivors, including La Salle. In 1995, less than 12 feet deep, the remains of the ship were discovered and recovered by the Texas Historical Commission.

At 2 pm on Dec. 19, Eric Ray, a maritime archaeologist with the Texas Historical Commission, will deliver a lecture about La Belle in the History Museum Auditorium.

Finally, meet part of the people responsible for bringing the exhibit here. From left, Falia Gonzalez, Spanish curator of the exhibit from the Archivo General de Indias; FaliaJosefMayorFran1_5x7Josef Diaz; Mayor Coss; and Dr. Levine.

Please join us for this weekend’s activities — Saturday’s private reception (tickets $100 at the Lensic) and Sunday’s grand opening. Each week through Jan. 9, we’ll have The Threads of Memory Lecture Series — all of it free with museum admission. (Remember: Children 16 and under are always free; Seniors free on Wednesdays; NM residents free on Sundays; and everyone free 5-8 pm Fridays.)  Bring your family and enjoy learning more about our rich Spanish roots.

“Fire” Sale at the Cowden Cafe

PlazaCafePosterAndy and Daniel Razatos, owners of the historic Plaza Cafe on the Santa Fe Plaza, are still reeling from a fire last weekend that put their well-loved eatery temporarily out of commission. But that hasn’t stopped them from feeding the hungry hordes at the Cowden Cafe, which they operate inside the New Mexico History Museum. To sweeten the deal for customers longing for the turkey-cashew mole and other delights they whip up at the Plaza, the Razatos have lowered prices at the Cowden, including a delicious offer of 99-cent desserts.

You read that right.

And you just might have to hurry if you aim to beat the crowds of people who, in at least a few cases, are snapping up not one, not two, not three, but grocery sacks full of desserts, take heed: The cafe opens at 11 a.m. and stays open until 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

On Friday, dessert selections included flan, red-velvet cake, white cake and a gooey-luscious chocolate cake.

But that’s not all.

Besides their desserts, the Razatos are offering fire-sale prices on their salads, sandwiches and daily soup choices, which on Friday included tortilla soup and (…wait for it…) MENUDO! What could be a more culturally specific dining choice during the annual Santa Fe Fiesta? (Well, other than roasted head of Zozobra, perhaps.)

A cup of menudo, packed with legendary health-giving properties, costs only $1. And a soup-salad-sandwich combo? A mere $4.

patio lunch kidsThe best part is that you can then enjoy them on the second-floor cafe’s outdoor terrace overlooking the Palace of the Governors Courtyard and the rooftops of downtown Santa Fe.

You don’t have to be a museum-goer to eat at the cafe — although we think you’ll be enticed to buy an admission ticket once you get a glimpse of the interior. Just enter through the Washington Avenue doors and tell the nice folks at the guard station that you’re here for the chow. They’ll send you on up.

While at the cafe, log onto our free wifi or just enjoy some time with your dining companions.

The Cowden Café is named for a historic ranching family who built the JAL Ranch. From 1883 to 1915, the JAL Ranch (which lent its name to the southeastern New Mexico town of Jal) was the open-range home to 40,000 head of cattle and a part of New Mexico history that included the likes of Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight, skirmishes with Comanches, and tales of scrabbling out the pioneer life in dugouts and covered wagons.

At its peak, the JAL occupied much of what is now Lea County, east and south into Texas.Its legacy was detailed in Michael Pettit’s book, Riding for the Brand: 150 Years of Cowden Ranching (University of Oklahoma Press, 2006), which won a New Mexico Book Award for Best Southwest History. Michael will talk about the JAL and family ranching lore at 2 pm on Sunday, Sept. 26, in the History Museum Auditorium. The lecture is free with museum admission (Sundays are free to NM residents) and will be followed by coffee and cobbler featuring fruit grown by New Mexico farmers, courtesy of the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

You’ve waited long enough. How about some food?

sandwich casepastry cabinet

turkey sammich 99-cent dessertsflanwhite cake

NEH Teachers Take Up NM Crafts

NEH teachers - retablos 2The Palace Courtyard was cool, with a reasonable amount of shade this morning — a far cry from the lightning storm predicted for later today. A perfect time, in short, to try out a little plein air painting, New Mexico-style. The teachers participating in this week’s NEH-UNM program, “Contested Homelands: Knowledge, History and Culture of Historic Santa Fe,” ditched the lecture tables in favor of some hands-on activities: creating retablos and punched-tin frames, under the guidance of two notable New Mexico artists.

Santero Gabriel J. Vigil is a Raton native who gave up dreams of professional boxing to build an artist’s career in Santa Fe. Winner of multiple awards for his retablos and bultos at Spanish Market, he hasn’t forgotten his roots and regularly works with children, passing along his art skills to them. Thanks to that experience, he likely had a few tricks up his sleeve when he set out to teach our teachers. He gave them a few hints, provided some drawings for them to work off of, then set them loose.

The results? Soulful and stirring.

A group of teachers in the NEH-UNM workshop enjoy painting retablos on a cool Santa Fe morning.

A group of teachers in the NEH-UNM workshop enjoy painting retablos on a cool Santa Fe morning.

A sacred heart design takes wing.

A sacred heart design takes wing.

Inside the Palace, another group of teachers created a din usually reserved for construction sites. Cleo Romero, a Nambe-based artist, showed them a selection of her punched-tin work — which, in 2006, won top honors in Santa Fe’s Spanish Market. With the assistance of some patterns, nails and hammers, she let the participants work off any potential aggressions by pounding out their own creations.

NEH teachers - tinwork 2

Using a paper pattern, one of the teachers lines up her punched-tin design.

With Romero's works for inspiration (hanging, at right), teachers get to pounding.

With Romero's works for inspiration (hanging, at right), teachers get to pounding.

If any of that got you inspired,take note: Cleo will teach a free tinwork class next Wednesday from 10 am to 2 pm at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts. (Call 982-2226 for details.) For further inspiration, check out the online version of Treasures of Devotion; Tesoros de Devocion, the exquisite exhibit in the Palace of the Governors celebrating the work of New Mexico’s legendary santeros.

Party Like It’s 2009

This time a year ago, we were crossing fingers that floors would be finished, scaffolds would go away, artifacts would appear and maybe, just maybe, a few people might decide to show up for the New Mexico History Museum’s grand opening on May 23, 2009.

Boy, were we surprised. Not only did the interior look as spit-polish as the exterior, but more than 20,000 people stood in blocks-long lines opening weekend outside …..

4x5 lines outside

… and inside …

4x5 line inside

…waiting for a peek. (Worth noting: Those people who not only stood in the waiting lines but did so as a thunderstorm threatened to drown them.)

Since that auspicious start, we’ve drawn more than 150,000 visitors (more than doubling the attendance of our predecessor, the Palace of the Governors); held a packed schedule of lectures, workshops and performances; played host to the Crown Prince of Spain; and carried home an armload of awards.

In honor of its accomplishments and in gratitude to those who helped make the first year such a success, the Museum of New Mexico Board of Regents voted to open the museum for free May 22 and 23.

“We want to throw a party to say `thank you’ for everything that New Mexicans and out-of-state visitors have done for us,” said Dr. Frances Levine, director of the museum. “The outpouring of support from visitors, scholars, donors, businesses, and especially our volunteers has carried us beyond our expectations.”

The highlight of the free “Wild Weekend” is the opening of Wild at Heart: Ernest Thompson Seton, an original exhibit created with special support from the Academy for the Love of Learning, home of the Seton Legacy Project.

“It took 20 years and the hard work of many dedicated staff members, volunteers and donors to create this wonderful new museum,” said Stuart Ashman, State Cultural Affairs Department Secretary.  “The overwhelming successes that we’ve witnessed during its first year of life are endorsements of these efforts.”

The full weekend schedule:

Saturday, May 22

10 am – 5 pm: Free admission, plus a sneak peek at the new exhibit, Wild at Heart: Ernest Thompson Seton, from 12 – 5 pm.

12 – 2 pm: The Wildlife Center in Española displays an assortment of the wild mammals and raptors it has rescued. Palace Courtyard.

Sunday, May 23

10 am – 5 pm: Free admission. Grand opening of Wild at Heart: Ernest Thompson Seton. Albert and Ethel Herzstein Changing Exhibitions Gallery.

12 – 4 pm: Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary brings a live wolf to the Palace Courtyard. Special program at 1:30 pm.

2 – 4 pm: Wild at Heart opening reception, hosted by the Women’s Board of the Museum of New Mexico. Booksigning of Ernest Thompson Seton: The Life and Legacy of an Artist and Conservationist with author and guest curator David L. Witt. Palace Courtyard.

Upon opening, the 96,000-square-foot History Museum joined a campus that included:

The Palace of the Governors, the nation’s oldest continuously occupied public building; Fray Angélico Chávez History Library; Palace of the Governors Photo Archives; Palace Press; and Portal Artisans Program. In its last year as a solo museum, the Palace drew 68,454 visitors.

POG exterior from Washington

Major accomplishments of the last year include:

Renovation of the Palace Press, including the addition of a new permanent exhibit recreating famed artist Gustave Baumann’s original printing studio


Opening the exhibit Santa Fe Found: Fragments of Time and hosting a series of lectures on the founding of the city, in honor of its 400th birthday

Comb helmet and breast plate

Moving 3,700 textiles and 10,000 artifacts (including 1,404 pieces of furniture) into new, state-of-the-art collections storage inside the museum

wedding dress 5x4

Acquisition of an 1842 book printed by Padre Antonio José Martínez on the first press in New Mexico, as well as letters written by Billy the Kid to Gov. Lew Wallace

martinez book 300

Winning a $147,000 grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services to partner with KNME-TV on development and broadcast of history documentaries

covered wagon

Playing host to His Royal highness Prince Felipe of Spain and his wife, Letizia, during a 400th Anniversary event

prince in ctyd

Publication by the Palace Press of Santa Fe Poet Laureate Valerie Martinez’s book, This Is How It Began, commemorating the 400th anniversary

This Is How it Began

Unveiling the commemorative Bill Mauldin stamp with the US Postal Service

unveiling 5x3

“Visitors tell us time and again that they love what we’re doing – and that they want more,” Levine said. “Our goal is to continue bringing forward even more of the stories that shaped the West, more exhibitions, more lectures, and more ways for people to engage with history and be inspired to explore more of New Mexico.”

Join the Stampede!

Join the Stampede

New Mexico History Museum’s Grand Opening Events
Promise Two Free Days of Family Fun

After 20 years in the planning – not to mention centuries in the making – New Mexico’s newest museum opens its doors to the public at noon on Sunday, May 24, 2009. It wouldn’t be a Santa Fe event without a Santa Fe-style party, and we’re pulling out the stops.

With events and entertainment at the Museum, in the Palace of the Governors’ shady courtyard and on the Santa Fe Plaza, there’s a little something for everyone. Lowriders, Mariachi music, flamenco dancing, Celtic pipers, Native American drummers, and Chautauqua performers are just part of what you’ll find, along with a free Ice Cream Social 1-4pm Monday, May 25, in the Palace Courtyard.

All of it’s in honor of the New Mexico History Museum, http://www.nmhistorymuseum.org/, the state’s newest museum, which includes interactive multimedia displays, hands-on exhibits, and vivid stories of real New Mexicans. As a 96,000-square-foot extension of the 400 year-old Palace of the Governors – the oldest continually occupied government building in the US – the New Mexico History Museum anchors itself on the historic Santa Fe Plaza and offers a sampling of the people and the legends to be found throughout the state. Get into it! Come be a part of history in the making!

Schedule of events:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Members-only preview and light breakfast. Find out how to become a member at www.museumfoundation.org or sign up at the event.

Free admission to the History Museum and its exhibits, along with all other state museums in Santa Fe.

Native American drumming in the Palace Courtyard.

1-3 pm:
Ribbon-cutting with Dr. Frances Levine, director of the Museum, and other dignitaries in the Palace Courtyard. Presentation of the Colors by La Orden Military; Pledge of Allegiance; Blessings of the Ground; ribbon-cutting and ceremonial walk over the bridge connecting the Palace Courtyard to the Museum.

3-6 pm:
Procession of lowriders and display outside the Palace. Participants includes Joseph, Matt and Bobby Chacon; Almardo and Pam Jaramillo; Victor Martinez.

3-4 pm:
Santa Fe Indian School Spoken Word Team performance (Dia de los Niños/Dia de los Libros) on the Plaza. Indigenous youth writers, the team members have received national recognition for performances of poetry that incorporate Native languages and philosophies. The school’s spoken-word program demonstrates the importance of culture, history, tradition, identity and poetry. The youths are coached by teacher and writer Tim McLaughlin.

3-5:30 pm:
Museum of New Mexico Press/University of New Mexico Press book signings in the History Museum Gathering Space.

4-4:30 pm:
Kenpo Po Karate Karate School demonstration on the Plaza. Like the History Museum, the Kenpo School believes the next generation – our future history-makers – will be more successful with a confident and well-rounded childhood. Participants: D’Kota Potter, 5; Carlos Garcia, 5; Markus Vigil, 10; Evan Watkins, 7; Fernanda Carranza, 9; Maria Lozova, 12; Tommy Dearing, 14; Maria Najarro.

4:30-5 pm:
Mariachi Sonidos del Monte (Sounds of the Mountain) on the Plaza. With a variety of violins, trumpets, guitars, a guitarron, vihuela and a range of harmonic voices, this group is quickly becoming a Northern New Mexico favorite. The group plays traditional Mexican favorites with its own unique sound. Musicians include Raul Duran, violin; Sean Trujillo, violin; Anthony Ortiz, violin; Santiago Romero, guitar; Fernando Romero, guitarron; Rachel Miller, vihuela; Christina Gomez, guitar; Brandie Duran, violin; Eric Ortiz, trumpet; Nikki Brancha, trumpet.

Institute for Spanish Arts and Maria Benítez’s La Generación performance on the Plaza. World-renowned flamenco dancer Maria Benítez, with the Institute for Spanish Arts, formed this company of young New Mexicans to preserve and strengthen our rich and diverse artistic heritage. Since 2003, the company has fostered new generations of artists and audiences by stimulating public awareness of Hispanic and Spanish art and culture – bolstering the Museum’s desire to carry a legacy of history and identity to the next generation. The company, consisting of children ages 10-18, has performed throughout the state. Maria Benítez, with her husband, Cecilio, founded and direct Maria Benítez Teatro Flamenco, long known for its commitment to excellence.

Order of the Thistle pipes and drums on the Plaza. Besides performing throughout New Mexico, this band attended the Pipefest ’05 in Edinburgh, Scotland, marching with more than 400 bands from around the world. They show that New Mexico has more than three cultures comprising its varied heritage. The band, wearing the muted MacDonald tartan, range from 10-year-olds to seniors. Members include Ron Crawford, pipe major; Lisa Lashley, pipe sergeant; Gwyneth Duncan, drum sergeant; Ed Hansen, piper; Cullen Dwyer, drummer, bass; Paulette Keeney, piper; Louis Jacobs, drummer, tenor.

Monday, May 25:

Free admission to the History Museum and its exhibits, along with all other state museums in Santa Fe.

Interfaith service at St. Francis Cathedral.

Processional parade from the Cathedral to the Museum with Los Caballeros, the Santa Fe Fiesta Council, representatives of Native American groups and New Mexico Historical societies, and others.

Lion Dancers from the Chinese American Citizens Alliance of New Mexico perform outside the Museum. (Feed the lion dollar bills for good luck!)

Live music and dance on the Santa Fe Plaza from various periods and cultures of New Mexico, including Andrew Tomas on Native American flute; Barbershop Sounds; Santa Fe Community Band; National Dance Institute; Not-So-Andrews Sisters; Alamogordo Ballet Folklorica Dancers; Call of the Drums.

Throughout the Plaza, characters from the past, dressed in the costumes of their time, reappear, ready to tell their stories, answer questions and pose for pictures.

12-4pm: The Santa Fe Vintage Car Club roars into the Plaza to display shining examples of the vehicles that once carried Americans across the Southwest.

1-2:30pm: Members of Sociedad Folklorica join members of New Mexico’s tribes and pueblos to model historical clothing, complementing the Museum’s premiere rotating exhibition, “Fashioning New Mexico.” Come to the Museum’s upstairs Gathering Space to enjoy the show.

1-4 pm: The Route 66 Ice Cream Parlor sets up shop in the Palace Courtyard, offering free scoops served by members of Kenpo 5.0 Team Silva. Live music and historical photo boards to pose yourself into (bring a camera!).

Team Silva – professional cage-fighter Paul Silva and his father/mentor/cornerman Gilbert H. Silva – along with fighting colleagues Paul Tapia, Tony Potter, Ricky Salas and Leroy Ortega, are taking off the gloves and picking up the scoops as part of their shared goal with the Museum to promote family, values, self-realization and nurturing for the next generation.

2:30-4 pm: Telling New Mexico, the book accompanying the Museum’s core exhibition, will be unveiled at a book signing and panel discussion among authors who contributed to the collection of historical essays. Enjoy your first event in the Museum’s brand-new auditorium and get a copy of what’s sure to become a must-have historical resource.

New Mexico History Museum
at 113 Lincoln Avenue, just behind the Palace of the Governors on the Santa Fe Plaza

For more information about the New Mexico History Museum, including a selection of user-ready high-resolution photographs, log onto http://media.museumofnewmexico.org/nmhm. More than 8,000 additional, high-resolution photographs illustrating the history of New Mexico are available by keyword search at www.palaceofthegovernors.org (click on “Photo Archives” then on “Digitized Collections”). Most requests for scans from this site can be delivered the same day, and usage is free for publicity purposes only.

Previous releases:
Four Centuries of History: the Fiestas de Santa Fe

Where ancient artifacts meet cutting-edge art

Fashioning New Mexico

The Tiffany Ties that Bind

The Railroad Wars

The New Face of History

The Tales that Made the American West

New Mexico History Museum’s Core Exhibits

Telling the People’s Stories: A Message from the Director

Creating a Place for Our Past, by Dr. Frances Levine, El Palacio, Summer 2006

Other Sites:
NM History Museum on Twitter
NM History Museum on Facebook

Media Contacts:
Kate Nelson
New Mexico History Museum
505 476 1141

Rachel Mason
Ballantines PR
505 216 0889


Saturday, May 23rd
6:30 – 9pm
New Mexico History Museum Grand Opening Gala
$200 per person
e-mail heather@museumfoundation.org or
call 505-982-6366 x116 to RSVP

Sunday, May 24
9am – Noon
New Mexico History Museum
Members-Only Preview
Reserve at membership@museumfoundation.org

Noon – 6pm
New Mexico History Museum Public Opening

Noon – 6:00 pm
New Mexico Creates Shop Opens
Members receive 10% discount

Native American drumming in the Palace Courtyard

Official ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Palace Courtyard

Low-rider exhibition outside the Palace

Santa Fe Indian School Spoken Word Team performance on the Plaza

Museum of New Mexico Press/University of New Mexico Press book signings in the History Museum’s Gathering Space

Kenpo Po Karate School demonstration on the Plaza

Mariachi Sonidos del Monte (Sounds of the Mountain) on the Plaza

Institute for Spanish Arts and Maria Benitez’ La Nueva Generación flamenco performance on the Plaza

Order of the Thistle pipes and drums on the Plaza

Monday, May 25
10:00 am – 5:00 pm
New Mexico History Museum Family Day

Interfaith Service at St. Francis Cathedral

Procession from the Cathedral to the History Museum

Lion Dancers from the Chinese American Citizens Alliance of New Mexico perform outside the Museum (feed the lions dollar bills for good luck!)

Music and dance on the Plaza Gazebo.

Santa Fe Vintage Car Club exposition

Route 66 Ice Cream Parlor’s Ice Cream Social in the Palace Courtyard

Sociedad Folklorico complement to the exhibition: Fashioning New Mexico

Book signing and panel discussion of Telling New Mexico in the Museum Auditorium