Museum of International Folk Art

Museum Director, Khristaan Villela, Ph.D. Among Authors of Award Winning Book

March 13, 2019


(Santa Fe, NM)—The Museum of International Folk Art is pleased to announce that Museum Executive Director Khristaan Villela, Ph.D., and co-editors of The Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple: Freemasonry, Architecture, and Theatre, have won the Ralph Emerson Twitchell AwardThe book was published by the Museum of New Mexico Press on June 24, 2018, and will receive the award on March 30, 2019. 

The Historical Society of New Mexico grants the Ralph Emerson Twitchell Award for outstanding publication or significant contribution to the creative arts as related to New Mexico history. This award identifies the authors’ ground-breaking work documenting the Temple’s history and discussing Masonic traditions. Almost no outside scholarship exists on the topic, removing some of the mystery that surrounds the Freemasons. The striking theater and decorated backdrops used in Masonic degrees launched the project years ago, culminating in a thorough rendering of the building’s role in northern New Mexican history.

Villela’s chapter, "History and Architecture of the Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple," analyzes the building itself as it represents the confluence of Santa Fe’s lesser-known culture and history. Villela discusses the influences present in the building’s architecture signaling Moorish style—a significant departure from the Mexican and traditional Spanish-styled buildings that surround it. In a section of the chapter, published in El Palacio Magazine, Villela provides cross-cultural context for the building’s unique structural designs and color, tapping into a past that many Santa Feans may not know.

“…Islamic influence can be clearly traced in the art and architecture of Spain and its former overseas colonies. Examples of Moorish, or mudéjar, elements in Spanish colonial arts include tile work, ceramics, and complex wooden ceilings in the artesonadostyle.”

Perhaps one of the most notable aspects of the Scottish Rite Temple is the role that stewards of New Mexican art and culture have played in the building’s history. The founding director of the Museum of New Mexico, Dr. Edgar L. Hewett, was a member, and he suggested that Santa Fe’s Scottish Rite Temple should be built in a Moorish Revival architecture style, modeled after buildings at the Alhambra in Southern Spain. Other early members of the Santa Fe Scottish Rite included the Maya archaeologist Sylvanus Morley, and Jesse L. Nusbaum, both early staff members of the Museum of New Mexico. The pair also played key roles in cementing the Spanish-Pueblo Revival architecture style as the most appropriate for Santa Fe.  Along with Villela, New Mexico State Records Administrator, Dr. Rick Hendricks contributes a chapter discussing Masonic traditions and history, continuing the line of Scottish Rite-associated arts and culture influencers. 

The Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple: Freemasonry, Architecture, and Theatre contains essays and near 150 photographs from multiple collaborators and was co-edited by Dr. Wendy Waszut-Barrett and Jo Whaley. A book signing will accompany the award on Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Albuquerque, New Mexico as part of the New Mexico History Conference.

Related Photos

Members of the 1912 Dedication Class at the Scottish Rite Temple

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