After a year and change without a presence beneath the Palace of the Governors portal, Native vendors will return to the Plaza this weekend. The program has been in place since the 1930s and was put on hold last March as COVID-19 cases rose across the globe.
In a statement from the New Mexico History Museum, which operates the program with the Palace of the Governors, officials say that all vendors will be masked and socially distant, resulting in spillover onto nearby Washington and Lincoln Avenues.
“Protecting the health of artisans and the public is a primary concern of the museum and the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs,” the statement reads.
Visitors will be expected to adhere to one-way pedestrian traffic while browsing, and mask-wearing will be enforced in addition to the now-normal social distancing guidelines which still dictate six feet of space between people. Vendors will reportedly sell from 10 am to 3 pm daily, though some may stay later.
“The portal program is important as a special program of the history museum because it’s an opportunity for Native artisans to share their traditions with the public,” museum Executive Director Billy Garrett tells SFR. “It’s not just about showing their traditional work, but is also an opportunity for members of the public to talk to the artisans and learn more about their traditions—it’s an exciting program.”
Indeed, as free cultural offerings seem to dwindle with the passage of time, a space for collectors, fans or even just interested folks to learn more about Native culture and work (while also directly supporting artists if possible) does feel exciting. The New Mexico History Museum has, meanwhile, reopened fully following lockdowns. With admittance running 10 am to 5 pm every day—except Saturday when it stays open until 7 pm—New Mexico residents can visit for free from 5 to 7 pm on Fridays.