The New Mexico History Museum explores the early history of indigenous people through 400 years of Spanish colonization, the Mexican Period, and travel and commerce on the Santa Fe Trail. The museum also speaks to the flourishing of New Mexico’s world-renowned arts communities and the coming of the Atomic Age. The clash and melding of cultures—Native American, Spanish, Mexican, French and Anglo-American—and their differing perspectives are the conceptual threads weaving through the galleries.
The hands-on immersive design shall engage visitors in the history-making process of change, evolution, struggle, conflict and compromise that have resulted in New Mexico as it is today.
The New Mexico History Museum is located behind the venerable
Palace of the Governors on the Santa Fe Plaza—the nation’s oldest continuously occupied government building
since 1609—which will be incorporated into the new museum as its signature and most important artifact.
Built by the Spanish, the Palace symbolizes 400 years of encounters among Native Americans, Spanish, Mexicans and Europeans. It will provide the primary historical reference point throughout the exhibitions.
In addition to the exhibition galleries, the new museum features an auditorium; the Discovery Center, a gathering space for families to engage in hands-on, self-paced activities; and a terrace café that overlooks the Palace of the Governors Courtyard.
It also includes a 12,000-square-foot, climate-controlled storage vault to house the museum’s collections and artifacts and a 2,000-square-foot gift shop.
The three-level structure was designed in collaboration by the Santa Fe firm Conron & Woods
Architects, NCA Architects of Albuquerque, and SaylorGregg Architects, Philadelphia. The design reflects
contemporary building materials and trends while complementing the centuries-old adobe Palace of the
Governors. From the inside, windows and terraces frame views of Santa Fe’s historic downtown streetscape.
The New Mexico History Museum serves as the anchor of a campus that encompasses existing
state history museum resources—the Palace of the Governors, the Native American Artisans Program,
the Palace Press, the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library and the Photo Archives.
The innovative exhibition treatments were created in partnership with two internationally recognized design firms: Gallagher & Associates of Bethesda, Maryland, whose past projects include the International Spy Museum and Jamestown Settlement Museum; and Second Story, a Portland, Oregon, company known for its award-winning interactive work for the Smithsonian Institution and the National Geographic Museum.