Did you know the New Mexico Museum of Art has a massive library of texts open to the public? Well, it does, and behind the tomes, pages and materials is librarian and archivist Rebecca Potance. Potance also presides over a monthly open house series of events wherein anyone can visit the library and learn about a particular topic. This month's event (1-4 pm Wednesday Feb. 6. Free. 107 W Palace Ave., 476-5072) focuses on LGBTQIA+ artists.
Tell us a little bit about the impetus of the event.
Last year, the museum was celebrating our centennial, and I was asked to help out with doing special events to promote the museum. So I came up with the idea of doing these library open houses. I was doing them every month, and they really took off—very popular with the public and staff. I wanted to continue doing them, and I thought because February has Valentine's Day and is the month of love, I thought it would be nice to do something about queer artists. I like to highlight different aspects of the library to give people an idea of what sort of resources they can find.
How do you narrow it down? What's the scope?
The scope is really pretty broad. I try to match up resources that are most relevant to our collection. I give priority to artists who I know we have their work represented, people like Cady Wells, Marsden Hartley, Harmony Hammond—so a lot of them are going to have local connections. I also have resources that give a broader perspective on queer art history. I have one book that's an encyclopedia that looks at all of art history from a queer perspective. It's really informal, you can pop in anytime, and I have the specialty topic all pulled and aligned at the front. People can wander in, sometimes people like to stop and chat with me. It's really just getting to know the museum library.
Is this a resource that people are particularly aware of?
I don't think there's a lot of awareness about the resource. We are available for public use, but because it's a one-person library, my hours are a little bit limited. And we are a little tucked away in the basement, so it's not a part of the museum you see pretty often. But I've gotten all sorts of people. People pop in because they're curious. There aren't that many museum libraries, so it's new and interesting to them. Other people have really specific research questions. And I have a few regulars who come back just because they enjoy it. I get a lot of college students who come here, particularly at the master's level.