Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/ Laboratory of Anthropology
Located on Museum Hill just off the old Santa Fe Trail, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/ Laboratory of Anthropology is dedicated to preserving the culture of Southwest native peoples. Formed in 1947 with the merger of two institutions, each dedicated to the preservation of Southwest culture, the facility houses over 75,000 artifacts, more than 35,000 items in its Library of Anthropology, and provides educational programs for all ages. The museum offers visitors an opportunity to explore the unique peoples and cultures of the American Southwest.
Backstory and Context
In the early 20th Century, anthropologist Edgar Lee Hewitt responded to the quickening loss of native southwest cultural artifacts by founding the New Mexico Museum in 1909. In 1927, John D. Rockefeller studied southwestern culture and, as a result, established the Laboratory of Anthropology. The two institutions merged in 1947 creating an extensive collection of Southwestern artifacts. Continued growth in the subsequent decades greatly increased the museum’s collections. The New Mexico Legislature provided $2.7 million in funding in 1977 for the construction of a new museum that opened in 1987.1
Despite the new building's 30,000 square feet, the museum quickly required more space for public exhibition. An additional 21,000 square foot wing was built in 1997. The new wing featured 9,000 square feet of exhibit space. Named for the daughter of a former Museum of New Mexico regent Nancy Bloch, the Amy Rose Bloch Wing houses the permanent exhibit titled “Here, Now and Always.”2 “Here, Now and Always” relates the stories of native communities as they are passed from generation to generation. The exhibit consists of artifacts and oral presentations created by elders from each community.3 The Buchsbaum Gallery displays nearly 300 pieces of the museum’s collection of more than 6,000 ceramic pieces, some dating back to 400CE.4In an effort to better preserve and present native artifacts, the museum established an Indian Advisory Panel in the 1980’s that advises museum staff on issues of cultural import. Members of different native communities contribute to the process of exhibit development for creating an exhibit that is accurate, informative, and culturally sensitive. The panel meets several times a year providing the museum advice on exhibits and educational programs.5 Museum programs provide educational opportunities for both children and adults.