Few places in America provide such great access to our Native American culture than Santa Fe, New Mexico. Exploring the Santa Fe area’s rich cultural roots may feel a little overwhelming at first because of the variety of choices, but that’s a nice problem to have.
As the renowned third-largest art market in the United States, Santa Fe is a spectacular place to visit. The city is full of galleries, charming shops, fascinating museums, and cultural events that offer incredible displays of art, and endless possibilities for learning, involvement, and exploration.
The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture–lovingly called the MIAC by most of the 65,000 visitors that flock to it annually–is the most popular museum in New Mexico for good reason. The MIAC is the premier source of Native American art and culture and shares fascinating stories of the indigenous people of the Southwest throughout history. The museum provides a diverse array of revolving exhibitions, intriguing lectures, field trips, featured artists, and educational programs.
The School of Advanced Research
The School for Advanced Research, known as SAR, is one of the best kept secrets of New Mexico. SAR is an illustrious archaeology, art, and anthropology program proudly displayed throughout the state capitol building. With over 600 pieces of stunning fine art, including breathtaking original Native American pieces, it could take you several days to enjoy them all. The New Mexico Capitol Art Collection is open to the public during the week and educational tours are available.
The Palace of the Governors
The Palace of the Governors, built in 1610, is famous for being the longest continuously occupied building in all of the 50 states. It is one of Santa Fe’s largest attractions, and features an outdoor shopping area under the world-renowned “Portal,” where modern-day Native American artisans sell their authentic hand-made jewelry and crafts.
New Mexico History Museum
Seeing all the beautiful Native American art is one thing, but if you really want to learn about their unique history, visit the New Mexico History Museum. It is a contemporary-looking 30,000 square-foot complex, that shares the history of the region in an engaging and memorable way, with top-of-the-line special exhibitions.
Native American Reservations
Image via Flickr by zachary o
There are also eight Northern Indian Pueblos located just north of Santa Fe that are fun to visit. Also, you should consider renting a car so you can drive through the Jicarilla Apache Nation, Navajo Nation, or the Mescalero Apache Reservation. You might get lucky and catch a native dance or special celebration. The colorful costumes and unique performances make for great picture taking and storytelling opportunities. There are many great places to stay in the area. For ideas on the best accommodations click here.
Exploring these galleries, historical places, and museums is a wonderful way to experience the enchanting cultural nuisances at the heart of the Native American lifestyle. Take a break now and then to enjoy lunch in the sun, wander through the town’s quaint shops, and take in the special vibe that only Santa Fe can provide.