New Mexico Museum of Art

Red or Green?

January 23, 2013


A new exhibition in the Governor’s Gallery examines the state’s official question.

It may not be from New Mexico originally, but chile has made quite an impression since it arrived in New Mexico.

Curated and organized by the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces, New Mexico Red or Green? The Origins and Cultural Significance of the Chile Pepper in New Mexico, is the latest exhibition in the Governor’s Gallery.  The exhibition runs through May 10, 2013.

The New Mexico Legislature named the chile as a state vegetable in 1965 and designated “Red or Green?” as the state question in 1996.  Drawing its title from this official state question, the exhibit focuses on New Mexico chile varieties, their history and evolution, and how chile became such an integral part of New Mexico’s culture without being a native plant. 

The exhibit traces the origins of the chile and how the Spanish brought the plant to the American Southwest in the early 1600s. It features the emergence of regional production centers such as Hatch and Chimayo, and the development of specific varieties by researchers such as Fabian Garcia at New Mexico A&MA College in the early 1900s.

Following the historical section, the exhibit focuses on how the chile became a key component of New Mexico culture – both as a cuisine and as a symbol. Regardless of a preference for red or green this entertaining and informative exhibition will be of interest. 

A related exhibition runs concurrently at the Museum of International Folk Art; New World Cuisine: The Histories of Chocolate, Mate y Más which, among other things, explores chiles’ influence on world cuisine.

The New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. The 47 acre interactive museum is located in Las Cruces and brings the history of New Mexico farming and ranching to life.  More information about the museum is available here,





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