New Mexico History Museum

Horno Construction Project in Palace Courtyard

June 27, 2017


Horno Construction Project in Palace Courtyard

(Santa Fe, NM) –  Construction of an iconic beehive-shaped mud oven horno will commence over two upcoming weeks in July at the New Mexico History Museum in the courtyard of the Palace of the Governors.  Construction will take place Wednesday & Thursday, July 12 & 13, and  again Tuesday & Wednesday, July 18 & 19.

The horno construction will be supervised by Cornerstones Community Partnerships. The working horno will be built by Felipe Ortega, a Jicarilla Apache micaceous potter and lifelong horno expert.  Once complete, the horno will be prepped for baking which could take up to a month. The new horno will bake bread to serve to visitors to the New Mexico History Museum and the Palace of the Governors. Bread will be baked by a certified baker and sold to the general public. This bread baking program will supply steady revenue to the History Museum.

 “The installation of a new horno in the Palace courtyard will highlight the history of these mud ovens that date back to the earliest Spanish presence in the 16th century, and the part these mud ovens have played in development in our regional New Mexican cuisine, and in shaping the lives and experiences of those who’ve grown up in New Mexico,” said Andrew Wulf, executive director of the New Mexico History Museum.

A demonstration oven in the plazuela, the courtyard of the Palace of the Governors, will serve to illuminate traditional work in New Mexico, adobe building technology and architecture, historical technologies for baking, and provide a first-hand and memorable understanding of the flavor of our regional culture.

“We aren’t the first ones to think of this,” said Wulf. “There are mid-19th century journal entries that describe an horno at work in the courtyard of the Palace of the Governors as the governance of New Mexico shifted from Mexico to the United States. There were likely other ovens in the courtyard in the preceding centuries as this location was also where the kitchens were staged to support the life of the Palace and its inhabitants.”

This project has been thoroughly vetted through the Department of Cultural Affairs Historic Preservation Division, the Museum of New Mexico Board of Regents, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Cornerstones Community Partnerships, and Palace of the Governors historians.

This program will become one of the hands-on, “living history,” experiences offered by the Museum, that will bring value and unique interpretive experience on our shared intangible heritage—food stories and histories—that demonstrate the power of food in memory and daily across all generations and cultural backgrounds of this region.



About the New Mexico History Museum

The New Mexico History Museum is a distinctive emblem of U.S. history. It presents exhibitions and public programs that interpret historical events and reflect on the wide range of New Mexico historical experiences and serves as a history center for research, education and lifelong learning, delivering quality programs that encourage knowledge, understanding and appreciation of New Mexico’s diverse cultures. It is located at 113 Lincoln Ave. in Santa Fe.




Related Photos

Horno ovens, New Mexico, William Henry Jackson photo (circa 1880), Palace of the Governors Photo Archive Negative Number 046644, New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe
Pueblo woman baking bread in horno oven, New Mexico, unknown photographer (circa 1915). Palace of the Governors Photo Archive LS.1722, New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe

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