New Mexico History Museum

It’s History in the Making as the Nation’s Newest Museum Opens its Doors:

May 26, 2009


The New Mexico History Museum,, welcomed thousands of visitors today, May 24, 2009, to three-and-a-half floors of stories detailing centuries' worth of the stories that made the American West. By 3 p.m., an estimated 7,000 people had crossed the threshold, while dozens of others lined up outside, even during an hour-long thunderstorm.

At a ribbon-cutting in the courtyard of the Palace of the Governors, part of the Museum's campus, Gov. Bill Richardson said, "Today, we celebrate the opening of a Museum solely dedicated to changing what we know of the history of the American West. I hope the New Mexico History Museum serves as a starting point for schoolchildren, scholars, legislators and others. Un día histórico para nuestro estado y nuestra gente."

Richardson used a pair of 18th-century Spanish scribe's scissors to cut the ribbon inaugurating the building at 113 Lincoln Ave., just north of the Palace on the historic Santa Fe Plaza.

"I've seen the whole thing come to life, and I'm absolutely overwhelmed," said first-time visitor Kenneth Aran of Los Alamos. "I expected this to be great. The anticipation doesn't even come close to the reality. This is amazing. And what a marvelous first day - all these people here to see this come to fruition."

Besides getting their first peeks at the Museum's core exhibition, Telling New Mexico: Stories from Then and Now, and its premier changing exhibition, Fashioning New Mexico, visitors were treated to an afternoon of entertainment in the Santa Fe Plaza and a gathering of New Mexico authors. The event was free and included free admission to all of the state's Santa Fe-based museums.

Video of the ribbon-cutting and opening-day events: New Mexico History Museum
Photographs of the events: NM History Museum
Live Twitter updates: New Mexico History Museum
All are free for publication and Web posting.

The speakers' comments included:

"New Mexico has this terrific tapestry of people and ideas. What we do today is going to be remembered for hundreds and hundreds of years." - former U.S. Sen. Pete V. Domenici, for whom the building is named.

"Today is an occasion many years in the making, some would say centuries in the making. I will never forget the dedication and commitment of the staff, volunteers and donors." - Dr. Frances Levine, director of the New Mexico History Museum.

"This is a celebration of the ethnic and cultural richness of New Mexico. It is a celebration of history, an act of remembrance of our shared Spanish heritage and Native American roots. Mexicans and Americans are neighbors and friends." - Ambassador Patricia Espinosa, Mexican Foreign Affairs Ministry

"It is a great honor to be here today as a representative of His Majesty, the King. I'm sure this project will thrive as well as the tree which His Majesty the King planted here in the Courtyard of the Palace of the Governors so many years ago." - Spanish Ambassador to the United States D. Jorge Dezcallar de Mazarredo

"With this project, we're making history in New Mexico and in the nation. This Museum will tell our story, the diverse cultural tapestry of our state." - Stuart Ashman, secretary of the Department of Cultural Affairs

"This Museum recognizes that the true history of New Mexico is a combination of different and sometimes divergent stories. I know that this Museum will inspire New Mexicans and visitors to learn more about the role tribal sovereign governments play in our history and our present." - Alvin Warren, secretary of the Department of Indian Affairs

Monday: The discoveries continue Monday with another free day of museum admissions and events in the Museum, the Palace Courtyard and on the Plaza. The New Mexico Rail Runner is offering reduced-fare rides to Santa Fe throughout the weekend as part of the celebration. Events include:

10am: Interfaith service at St. Francis Cathedral.

11am: Processional parade from the Cathedral to the Museum with Los Caballeros, the Santa Fe Fiesta Council, representatives of Native American groups and New Mexico Historical societies, and others.

11:30am: Lion Dancers from the Chinese American Citizens Alliance of New Mexico perform outside the Museum. (Feed the lion dollar bills for good luck!)

12-5pm: Live music and dance on the Santa Fe Plaza from various periods and cultures of New Mexico, including Andrew Tomas on Native American flute; Barbershop Sounds; Santa Fe Community Band; National Dance Institute; Not-So-Andrews Sisters; Alamogordo Ballet Folklorica Dancers; Call of the Drums.

Throughout the Plaza, characters from the past, dressed in the costumes of their time, reappear, ready to tell their stories, answer questions and pose for pictures.

12-4pm: The Santa Fe Vintage Car Club roars into the Plaza to display shining examples of the vehicles that once carried Americans across the Southwest.

1-2:30pm: Members of Sociedad Folklorica join members of New Mexico's tribes and pueblos to model historical clothing, complementing Fashioning New Mexico in the Museum's upstairs Gathering Space.

1-4 pm: The Route 66 Ice Cream Parlor sets up shop in the Palace Courtyard. Live music and historical photo boards to pose yourself into (bring a camera!).

2:30-4 pm: Telling New Mexico, the book accompanying the Museum's core exhibition, will be unveiled at a book signing and panel discussion among authors who contributed to the collection of historical essays. Enjoy your first event in the Museum's brand-new auditorium and get a copy of what's sure to become a must-have historical resource.

New Mexico History Museum at 113 Lincoln Avenue, just behind the Palace of the Governors on the Santa Fe Plaza. A media room is available across the street in the Museum of New Mexico Foundation office, with free wifi, past media releases and staff to assist journalists.

Media Contacts:
Kate Nelson
New Mexico History Museum
505 476 1141
Kate.Nelson (at) state.nm (dot) us

Rachel Silva
Ballantines PR
Rachel (at) ballantinespr (dot) com
505 216 0889
Ballantines PR


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