Museums are ocular feasts, stunning spaces filled with art, pieces of history and glimpses into the creative future. In Santa Fe, museums sit atop hills and near the Plaza, and each has special offerings for summer. From photographs of Syria in the early 1900s to Chinese quilts, there’s no shortage of the medium and millennia represented this season. Here are some of the best.
El Rancho de las Golondrinas
334 Los Pinos Road, 471-2261, golondrinas.org
The name means "the ranch of the swallows," and the historic property sits just outside town along the Camino Real (a former trade route between Mexico City and Santa Fe), which has been active for over 300 years. Today it hosts festivals and family-friendly activities throughout the summer. This year kicks off with the Spring and Fiber Fest (Saturday and Sunday June 3 and 4) which includes live sheep-shearing, carding and weaving using traditional methods. The Herb and Lavender Festival (Saturday and Sunday June 17 and 18) brings vendors with artisan soaps, lotions and edibles. Sip local wines later in the summer at the 24th Annual Santa Fe Wine Festival (Saturday and Sunday July 1 and 2). The 10th Annual ¡Viva México! Fiesta (Saturday and Sunday July 22 and 23) brings mariachis, multiple live performances by Norteño troubadours Lone Piñon, lucha libre fights and Mexican dance performances.
Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
217 Johnson St., 946-1000 okeeffemuseum.org
Smooth, soft white walls aren't cluttered by O'Keeffe's works. Instead, viewers are allowed to take in each painting by itself. The permanent collection includes examples from throughout O'Keeffe's career, including her fabled flowers, skulls and desert landscapes. See their special exhibit featuring works from early in O'Keeffe's career, when she attended the University of Virginia. O'Keeffe at the University of Virginia, 1912-1914 features scenes from around the college campus and, even in this early development phase, you can see her style coming through. The special exhibit is on view through Oct. 28.
Museum of Contemporary Native Arts
108 Cathedral Place, 983-8900 iaia.edu/iaia-museum-of-contemporary-native-arts
Currently, MOCNA's installations include a site-specific mural painted on the spot by Muscogee Creek/Citizen Band Potawatomi artist Daniel McCoy titled "The Ceaseless Quest for Utopia" (through the end of the year) and, in the next few months, patrons can view the show Connective Tissue: New Approaches to Fiber in Contemporary Native Art (July 9-Jan. 2018). The group exhibit features contemporary artists who incorporate elements of traditional fiber arts into their works, reviving and interpreting the ancient medium, and features pieces from Kelly Church, Melissa Cody, Tania Willard and more. Don't miss the reception on Aug. 17.
Take another look at desert landscapes and their potential with Desert ArtLAB, founded by artists April Bojorquez and Matthew Garcia, who've created an installation-meets-land art piece in Southern Colorado for Ecologies of Resistance (May 19-Jan. 28). In transforming a piece of dry land into thriving desert ecology, the collective hopes to change perceptions about what is possible in the desert.
Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
710 Camino Lejo, 476-1269 miaclab.org
You'll find a variety of contemporary Indigenous works in the museum's summer exhibits, I-Witness Culture: Frank Buffalo Hyde (Through Jan. 7, 2018) and Into the Future: Culture Power in Native American Art (July 2016-Oct. 22).
Buffalo Hyde documents current events with his humorous and honest narrative works, which draw from pop culture and activism. Into The Future presents comics by Native artists who include elements of Indigenous mythology in their original stories, and reinterpret characters like Pac-Man and Curious George.
Museum of International Folk Art
706 Camino Lejo, 476-1200 internationalfolkart.org
As its name suggests, this museum presents wonderful examples of folk art from around the world, such as tramp art, a fairly obscure style that transforms containers—like cigar boxes and fruit crates—into intricately carved treasures. See examples in the exhibit No Idle Hands: The Myths and Meanings of Tramp Art (through Sept. 16, 2018). Or visit rarely viewed Chinese quilts popping with vibrant colors and rich textiles in Quilts of Southwest China (July 9-Jan. 21, 2018).
Museum of Spanish Colonial Art
750 Camino Lejo, 982-2226 spanishcolonial.org
Photographs of one of the most influential female artists in history, and the selfie queen of all time, Frida Kahlo, dominate this summer in Mirror, Mirror: Photographs of Frida Kahlo, through Oct. 29. Over 50 images from gallerist Spencer Throckmorton's famous collection are featured, and the exhibit has thus far traveled to places like the National Portrait Museum in London. Kahlo's life is shown in a series of moments, the artist developing and carving her iconic image throughout the years.
New Mexico History Museum
113 Lincoln Ave., 476-5200 nmhistorymuseum.org
Life in New Mexico has a laid-back, mañana vibe. Some hate it, some love it, and it will probably never change. In the 1960s and '70s, that chill-yet-progressive vibe was part of a counterculutre movement. In Voices of Counterculture in the Southwest (through Feb. 11, 2018), curators Meredith Davidson and Jack Loeffler present images of youth culture in the Land of Enchantment during those times. A companion book with the same title delves even further into the past with 17 essays written by New Mexicans who contributed to the movement.
New Mexico Museum of Art
107 W Palace Ave., 476-5072, nmartmuseum.org
Drawing is one of the most immediately accessible forms of expression, and Lines of Thought: Drawing from Michelangelo to Now (through Sept. 17) shows examples of the medium by greats like Picasso, Cézanne, da Vinci and more, flown in from the British Museum in London.
Palace of the Governors
105 W Palace Ave., 476-5100, palaceofthegovernors.org
As home to some of the oldest places in human civilization, see the photographs in Syria: Cultural Patrimony Under Threat (June 23-Dec 31) highlight sites in the Middle Eastern country between the years of 1899 and 1909. Much of what was photographed has since been destroyed during decades of turmoil and war, and this exhibit, presented in collaboration with nonprofit Curators Without Borders, hopes to bring awareness to the everlasting toll human conflict takes upon our earth and history.
Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian
704 Camino Lejo, 986-4636 wheelwright.org
Before Benjamin Franklins, glass beads served as a common form of currency, and the exhibit Beads: A Universe of Meaning (through April 15, 2018) is filled with beautiful examples of the detailed art. See moccasins circa 1870, purses from the '30s and much more.