New Mexico History Museum

Home Movies--Discovered, Collected, Preserved

June 04, 2015


At 2 pm on Saturday, June 20, see archival films from the Old Santa Fe Association’s new collection, including gems filmed by Ernest Knee, culled from residents’ garages and closets and boasting little-known cinematic glimpses of life in northern New Mexico. The Palace of the Governors Photo Archives is partnering with OSFA to preserve the films, prime artifacts in a city long devoted to protecting its historic authenticity. A free event.

Although Ernest Knee is best known for the beautiful body of black-and-white still photographs he produced in New Mexico in the 1930, he was also a prolific artist with the moving image. These high-quality documentary clips portray Native artisans under the Palace Portal, Santa Fe Fiesta scenes, farming activities of northern New Mexico, the Navajo Fair in Window Rock, and scenes from Taos and Tesuque Pueblos. Another special treat will be the screening of a German documentary from the late 1940s, Music of the New West, an example of ethnography as entertainment, exploring the musical traditions of New Mexico, along with a charming tour of Santa Fe led by artist Tommy Macaione.

The Old Santa Fe Association is a historic preservation organization (501-c-4), created in 1926, with the purpose of maintaining historical landmarks, structures, and cultural traditions in greater Santa Fe, New Mexico environs, as guides in influence on future community development. To update its initiative, the association perceived a need in the community for help in preserving early film material held by local residents and/or organizations. Images that reflect our life ways of the past will become tomorrow’s historical reference if placed into proper curatorial conservancy today.

Thus was born a partnership with the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives to help find and collect archival film currently in danger of being tossed into the landfill, as it may be deemed as irrelevant in today’s digital world. The association will not only act as go-between for donors wishing to conserve their material by pickup and delivery to the Archives, but will follow legal protocol in doing so, so that donors can be ensured of potential tax benefits and future access to their material, if so desired. The association will also assist the Archives in a continual quest for funding to augment and enhance the collection’s availability to scholars, filmmakers, historians, and of course, the general public.

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