Santa Fe Museums

General Interest

Santa Fe is a mecca for artists and collectors alike. Besides the opportunity to view and/or buy original museum quality artwork, northern New Mexico offers a rich cultural experience in performing arts and traditional New Mexico arts and crafts. Various special exhibits and performances are scheduled throughout the year. A good way to get an overview of upcoming attractions is to subscribe to the free weekly electronic newsletter at .


Be sure to visit the State Capitol to view the collection of contemporary New Mexican arts in all media. The grounds have sculptures that are presented on loan, generally for a year or more at a time. The Capitol building is open for self-guided tours – Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; no charge, and no appointment necessary.  For guided tours - Call (505) 986-4589 during normal business hours, Monday-Friday; for an appointment.


Links to nearby Santa Fe museums follow below on this page.   And here's a link to nearly all the museums/galleries in Santa Fe   Alphabetical_List



(Check the links below for times when the state-run museums have free admission.) 

You said we could walk to museums from La Casa Santa Fe? Between the art galleries and the historical buildings, half the town looks like a museum. But nine museum collections within a ten minute walk of La Casa Santa Fe are:


New Mexico State Capitol Building  Our advice is go here first to see a sample of paintings, sculpture, photographs, lithographs, pottery, weaving, and just about every other New Mexico art form that doesn’t require live performance. There is no charge for admission to the Capitol building, which is interesting in itself as the only round state capitol building in the U.S. The surrounding grounds have sculpture representing many of New Mexico’s outstanding artists, as well as landscaping with a variety of native plants.


Much of the art on the Capitol grounds has a Native American theme.


The Santuario de Guadalupe   The history of this adobe structure is somewhat mysterious, with some sources suggesting it was built in the late 1600s and others citing early 1700s or even 1800s.  Clearly, it has undergone rebuilding and remodeling at various periods, and now serves as a museum and a popular site for weddings and community oriented activities.  Regular worship occurs in a more modern structure on the grounds adjacent to the Santuario.   At the present time, you can visit the Santuario to see a collection of Mexican baroque and Italian Renaissance paintings, and New Mexican santos (carved images of saints.)  A large statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe graces the patio to the north, and rose gardens glorify the image.  Santuario de Guadalupe


SITE Santa Fe is a "non-collecting contemporary arts organization committed to enriching the cultural life of Santa Fe and beyond by providing an ongoing venue for exhibitions of artists who merit international recognition and complimentary education and multidisciplinary public programs."  Besides lecture series, SITE Santa Fe presents biennial exhibitions of contemporary art, developed around particular themes which illuminate modern life.


El Museo Cultural  In many ways more a community center than a museum, El Museo Cultural is "a Center of Hispanic Culture and Learning."  Located in the nearby Railyard District, the museum hosts community-oriented events, classes and workshops in addition to exhibits.  Although Northern New Mexico traditions are featured, the art, history, and culture of the larger Hispanic community are celebrated as well.


Atrium Gallery in the Bataan Memorial Building (the former State Capitol Building) at 407 Galisteo St. features the Touching Beauty exhibit of sculptures by Michael Naranjo. Naranjo lost his sight, the use of one arm, and most of the use his other hand in the Vietnam War.  Nevertheless, he pursued his sculpture.  A unique aspect of this exhibit is that you are encouraged to touch and explore the bronzes with your hands as well as with your eyes.  The gallery is open to the public at no charge during regular business hours, Monday through Friday.


The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum celebrated it’s ten-year anniversary in 2007.   The O’Keeffe is the only museum in the United States dedicated entirely to the works of a woman artist, and is the most-visited museum in New Mexico. To quote the museum webpage: " Throughout the year, visitors can see a changing selection of at least 50 of . . . (O’Keeffe’s) . . . works. In addition, the Museum presents special exhibitions that are either devoted entirely to O’Keeffe’s work or combine examples of her art with works by her American modernist contemporaries. Over 140 artists have been exhibitied at the Museum including Frank Stella, Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol and Arthur Dove."


For information about activities at Ghost Ranch, where O'Keeffe lived and worked for over 50 years, visit

Ghost Ranch


New Mexico Museum of Art  Founded in 1917, the Museum “emphasizes work produced in or related to New Mexico.” Long-term exhibits are augmented by special projects devoted to a particular artist or New Mexico theme. The west wing of the museum houses St. Francis Auditorium, one of Santa Fe’s premier performance spaces. If you visit the museum on Friday evenings, admission is free!


The Palace of the Governors Built in the 1600s to house representatives of the Spanish colonial government, this adobe building is the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States. The exhibitions draw on the museum’s collection to highlight New Mexico history. An additional attraction is the Portal Program, where over 900 Native American artists rotate to sell authentic arts and crafts from New Mexico, the Navajo Nation, and parts of Arizona.  The Palace of the Governors forms the northern side of the Plaza.


Step through the courtyard of the Palace of the Governors, and you will enter the New Mexico History MuseumNM History  First opened in May, 2009, "The new museum includes permanent and temporary exhibitions that span the early history of indigenous people, Spanish colonization, the Mexican Period, and travel and commerce on the legendary Santa Fe Trail.

The museum serves as the anchor of a campus that encompasses the Palace of the Governors, the Palace Press, the Fray Angelico Chavez History Library and Photo Archives."


A little farther afield:


A block from the east side of the Plaza you will find the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum IAIA Museumwhich serves both as a museum of work by contemporary Native American artists and as a training institute for museum professionals.  The four-year fine arts college Institute of American Indian Arts is a “. . . multi-tribal center of higher education dedicated to the preservation, study, creative application, and contemporary expression of American Indian and Alaska Native arts and cultures." The school is on Cerrillos Road, but the museum is located in downtown Santa Fe.   Besides providing exhibit space for contemporary Native American art, including that produced by the IAIA students, the museum is a resource for training the students in skills which prepare them to work as museum professionals.


Other museums are perhaps a bit far for walking but within easy driving distance or accessible by Santa Fe City Transit. Bus connections to four museums on Museum Hill two blocks away from the apartment: Museum Bus


Museum of Spanish Colonial Art Over 3,000 objects illustrate the art forms developed after the Hispanic arrival in the New World from the Middle Ages to the present. Religious works, furniture, straw applique, ceramics, books, metal work -- all demonstrate the urge to make beautiful objects from whatever was at hand.


Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, and Laboratory of Anthropology Go here to see a changing series of exhibits that illuminate the Native American cultures of the Southwest. In addition to exhibits, various special events and performances take place all year long. If you’ve always yearned to learn how to use an atlatl, this is the place for you.


Museum of International Folk Art The world’s largest collection of folk art resides here. Representing cultures from throughout the world, the museum fosters international understanding by demonstrating the creative spirit that resides in all cultures. The number and variety of objects is both charming and overwhelming. Demonstrations of one or another folk craft take place throughout most weeks. A café is available for mid-day refueling.


The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian The Wheelwright hosts changing exhibits of historic and contemporary Native American art. There is no admission charge, though donations are happily accepted. One beloved tradition is 25 years of listening to tales recounted by Joe Hayes, a master bi-lingual storyteller, who weaves his magic on summer weekend evenings.


The Santa Fe Children's Museum  Over twenty-two changing activities delight children of all ages as they learn about physics, nature, art, and social interaction. Many of the exhibits require cooperation with others to participate fully. A climbing wall helps kids challenge themselves while burning off some energy in a safe environment.


Bataan Memorial Military Museum  Located eight blocks from the Plaza on the Old Santa Fe Trail, this museum was initiated shortly after World War II. The central focus is to tell the tale of the 200th and 515th Coast Artillery Regiments, who were captured on Bataan when the Japanese overran the island in 1942. They endured captivity for one and a half years, losing half their members in the ordeal. The museum has a steadily growing collection of artifacts and memorabilia from World War II.


El Rancho de las Golondrinas  This remarkable living history museum is located approximately 18 miles from Santa Fe, at the site of an important waystation on El Camino Real, the “Royal Road” that stretched all the way from Mexico City to Santa Fe. Original buildings have been supplemented by recreations of historic structures from other parts of northern New Mexico. “Villagers” clothed in New Mexico colonial garb demonstrate how life was lived in the early days of Spanish settlement. Heirloom crops and animals are maintained on the grounds, and various special interpretive events are held during the year. (photo by D. Prendergast)   Go to the website to see the calendar of events.


Other Interesting Stuff



Loretto Chapel

Loretto Chapel (pictured at left) Visitors to Santa Fe who appreciate beautiful carpentry and who are intrigued by a bit of mystery visit the beautiful Gothic chapel which was built in the late 1800s. While the chapel is visually interesting as a whole, the circular staircase which was added to solve the problem of access to the choirloft captures the most attention. It makes two 360 degree turns and has no center support.


St. Elias the Prophet Greek Orthodox Church  St. Elias Located in El Dorado, a community about 14 miles east of Santa Fe, the church was constructed in the 1990s.   The beautiful Byzantine architecture is now being enhanced by majestic iconography.   The church is open to all on Thursdays, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, for prayer or viewing the icons.


Santa Fe Clay is a working studio, gallery, store for ceramic supplies and for finished pieces.  The galleryfrequently has special exhibits of ceramic works focussed on specific themes, with pieces formed by local artists.


Shidoni Foundry  Located five miles north of Santa Fe in Tesuque, this is where many of the monumental bronze sculptures you see at the Capitol and elsewhere throughout town were cast. The grounds contain a sculpture gallery, and you may be able to watch a “pour” as they cast huge pieces of art.


The Santa Fe Society of Artists Juried outdoor art shows of members’ work take place near the Plaza several weekends of each summer month. Click on the link to go to on-line galleries of the work from over 50 of the members of this non-profit organization.


The Center for Contemporary Arts   CCA The CCA is a non-profit organization which promotes “. . . programming in all media, including installation, film, video, new music, literature and spoken word performance.” Various exhibits and performances take place throughout the year.

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