Conveniently located in the heart of downtown Santa Fe, the New Mexico Museum of Art works to foster experiences that lead to a deeper enjoyment of art. The museum not only works to bring art from around the globe to Santa Fe, but it also takes New Mexican art to the world.

Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the New Mexico Museum of Art delivers its mission to thousands of visitors every year, working with art and artists to explore new ideas, diverse cultures, and the human experience. From the building it's housed in, a work of art in and of itself, to its library of over 20,000 works in the permanent collection, to the changing and evolving temporary exhibitions, the Museum creates an enriching and invigorating art experience for its visitors. Photo: New Mexico Museum of Art



Founded in 1909 by archaeologist Edgar Lee Hewitt, Museum of New Mexico, as it was then known, took the form of art shows in the historic Palace of the Governors. Realizing that a separate gallery would be needed, the current building was constructed in 1917, reflecting the historic style of centuries old pueblos. Early on, the Art Gallery encouraged local artists to exhibit their works at a time when there were no local art galleries in the city center.

This support of local art and artists continues to this day, in the form of the Museum's vision to bring the art of New Mexico to the world. Soon, artists from other parts of the country came to New Mexico to work and display their art in the gallery, resulting in a broad range of pieces in the collection. Throughout the years, the Museum continued to evolve, changing its name from the Museum of Fine Arts, as it was known from the 1960s onward, to the current New Mexico Museum of Art, reflecting the vision and focus on the art of New Mexico.


The structure housing the collection is as much a part of museum as any painting or sculpture. Constructed in 1917, the style was inspired by the 300 year old Mission de Acona and other historic pueblos. The architects, Rapp and Rapp, modeled the design after the success of the Panama-California Exhibition in San Diego in 1915. The structure was designed to define the style of Santa Fe, which incorporated Hispanic style and traditional pueblo architecture of the area.

The structure was built from 750,000 bricks made by inmates at the state penitentiary. The original purpose of the Museum was to help to drive tourism to the Santa Fe Area, with the architecture of the structure designed to further that purpose. The Museum building was first approved in 1912, shortly after New Mexico received statehood, and was set out with the purpose to distinguish the style of the city and state from the rest of Middle America at the time. Things to Do in Santa Fe: New Mexico Museum of Art - Photo:

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The permanent collection at the New Mexico Museum of Art houses more than 20,000 works. The bulk of the works represent art from the Southwest, and many are available for viewing online via the Institution's online searchable art museum. Not all works are on display at all times, but visitors can reach out to the Museum to view any specific work or items in the archives.

Works in the permanent collection feature highlights from Georgia O'Keeffe, Gustave Baumann and Lucy Lippard. Other works in the collection include items from the Santa Fe art colonies of the past hundred years. In addition, two sculpture gardens are also available for visitors' enjoyment.

Temporary Exhibitions

The temporary exhibitions at the New Mexico Museum of Art are a highlight of the institution. Themes and displays change periodically and vary wildly in their content. From Shakespeare's First Folio to Southwestern Allure: The Art of the Santa Fe Art Colony and Reflections: Images of Apollo, there is always something new on offer at the Museum. Typically featured in the annual rotation are works from the Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts, typically showcased in the latter half of the year.

In addition to these temporary exhibitions on display in the gallery, the Museum also provides online exhibitions. These include selections from the Museum's archives and permanent collections, the annual Friends of Contemporary Art show, Art on the Edge, and other topics such as Pulling Strings: The Art and Marionettes of Gustave Baumann. These online exhibitions make New Mexico's art and artists available to anyone, anytime, anywhere in the world.


In addition to the permanent collections and temporary exhibitions available for viewing, special events and programs make the experience at the Museum even more enriching for visitors. Such ongoing events include daily docent tours or Drop in and Draw, a special time during the summer for artists to bring their materials and be inspired by the works in the galleries.

Other events include drawing lessons in the Summer Salon, or musical events that often include dancing. Family fun days or the ice cream social at the Museum enhance the experience for the whole family. Annual events are also on offer, such as the Governor's Awards Honoree's Exhibition or the Annual Holiday Open House. Visitors are encouraged to check the Museum's website for calendar information on these interesting and inspirational events.


In delivering their mission to cultivate a deeper understanding and enjoyment of art, the Museum also engages in educational activities. These include special exhibitions such as New Mexico Art Tells New Mexico History, to docent led tours that increase appreciation and education. Other resources available through the Museum's website include videos and web chats featuring discussions of the works or commentary from the artists themselves. The Museum's Blog also offers a wealth of information to provide insight into the pieces and delve deeper into their meaning, interpretation and origins. Things to Do in Santa Fe: New Mexico Museum of Art - Photo:

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»Plan Your Visit

Plan Your Visit

Easily accessible from public transit or by car, the Museum is just a few blocks from several parking lots and garages. Hours and exhibitions change throughout the year; as such, visitors are advised to check the Museum's website prior to visiting. Ticket prices, group information, and discounts are also listed on the site, as well as any information on closures resulting from extreme weather conditions.

There is no café within the Museum, however its downtown location is very close to several dining options within short walking distance. A Museum Shop is available, featuring posters, jewelry, handbags, scarves and other artistic items to take home. With vibrant collections, remarkable architecture and ever changing exhibitions, the New Mexico Museum of Art is a work of art itself.

Back to: 21 Best Things to Do in Santa Fe, New Mexico Address: 107 West Palace Avenue, Santa Fe, NM 87501, website, Phone: 505-476-5072 Things to Do in Santa Fe: New Mexico Museum of Art - Photo:

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Things to Do in Santa Fe: New Mexico Museum of Art