The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture on Santa Fe’s Museum Hill is one of the top sights in the city and a consistent visitor favorite. Regarded as a world class repository of Native art and cultural artifacts, it invites those interested in learning about the indigenous communities of the Southwest.
Through its varying exhibits, the museum tells the stories of these people from pre-history through contemporary art. Its extensive collection takes visitors on a colorful and fascinating journey through time. In the museum’s major exhibition, “Here, Now and Always,” voices of fifty Native Americans serve as your guide into the region’s indigenous lifestyles and traditions. Using poetry, song, story and discussion, these individuals share their insights, knowledge and experience.
Pottery is the main draw in the Buchsbaum Gallery where a selection of pieces from each of the Pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona is on display. They represent the development and significance of an age-old tradition.
Music aficionados will particularly enjoy “Heartbeat: Music of the Native Southwest,” a unique exhibit with over 100 objects including drums, flutes, rattles and clothing used during indigenous ritual performances. Here you can experience the sights and sounds of Native dance and music via several interactive stations and even have the opportunity to make your own music in the Heartbeat Recording Studio.
And if you’ve ever wanted to find out everything there is to know about turquoise, you’ll want to check out “Turquoise, Water, Sky: The Stone and Its Meaning.” This not-to-be-missed exhibit highlights the museum’s magnificent collection of Southwestern turquoise jewelry, while emphasizing its value to indigenous people for adornment and ceremonial purposes, as well as a trading commodity. All aspects of this sought after stone are presented, from its geology, mining and history to matters of authenticity and value. In the contemporary arts vein, the museum has several noteworthy sculpture exhibits, as well as a very special show featuring the work of well-known New Mexico artist, David Bradley. “Indian Country: The Art of David Bradley” includes paintings, mixed media works and bronze sculptures created by the artist throughout his career.
The museum offers docent guided tours, artisan demonstrations and a variety of educational programs for all ages. “Visitors love the museum,” comments Steve Cantrell of the NM Department of Cultural Affairs. “They often come here as an intro before visiting the Pueblos. And for Native Americans, it’s a huge resource.”