In 1909, Santa Fe’s Palace of the Governors ceased being the seat of government and became the home of the New Mexico History Museum. New Mexico’s rich history includes Native, Spanish, Mexican, and U.S. influences. While the Palace of the Governors is itself a piece of history, it proved insufficient to the task of housing and displaying New Mexico’s historic artifacts. A new museum campus, including a 96,000 square foot main building, was completed in 2009. Permanent and temporary exhibits relate the stories of New Mexico’s history and diverse cultural influences. Highlights include the Palace of the Governors and the Segesser Hide paintings. Other campus buildings include the Palace Press, a Photo Archive, and the Fray Angelico Chavez History Library.
Evidence of human existence in New Mexico stretches back approximately 27,000 years. New Mexico’s earliest inhabitants include the Sandia and Clovis peoples. Agricultural communities develop between 10,000 and 500 BCE with the Cochise people. Mogollon, Anasazi, and Pueblo cultures develop between 1 and 1500 CE. The Chaco Civilization reached its peak about 1300 CE.1
Spanish exploration of the area began in 1536 with the expedition of Cabeza de Vaca. Spain establishes settlements throughout the late 1500’s. In c.1610 Governor Pedro de Peralta founds Santa Fe and builds the Palace of the Governors. The building housed the seat of government until 1909. In 1680 the Pueblo Revolt occurs, Spanish missionaries were targeted and many were killed. Spanish settlers leave the region and do not return for twelve years. Diego de Vargas resettles Santa Fe in 1693. Wars between natives rage between Pueblos, Navajos, Apaches, and Commanches. Spanish control continued until 1821.2
Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821. Mexico allows trade along the Santa Fe Trail, Spain had kept the colony closed to outsiders. In 1837 the Chimayó revolt leads to violence in Santa Fe. Forces from Texas failed in her attempt to capture New Mexico in 1841.3 War between the U.S. and Mexico started in 1846, and the U.S. sent a force under Stephen W. Kearny to take control of Santa Fe and New Mexico. Kearny entered Santa Fe, without incident, on August 18, 1846 and the era of U.S. control began.4