The Museums of Taos, New Mexico
E.L. Blumenschein Home and Museum
Housed in a circa 1797 traditional adobe structure, the E.L. Blumenschein Home and Museum celebrates the artist who was so instrumental in establishing the Taos Society of Artists. Blumenschein first arrived in Taos in 1898, with his friend and traveling companion Bert G. Phillips, when a wheel broke on their wagon; they decided to stay.
The Blumenschein Home, which he acquired in 1919, is the only home of a Taos Society of Artists member that is open to the public. It features family possessions, a diverse art collection and eclectic furnishings that are preserved much as they were when the Blumenschein family lived there. The blend of fine European furnishings, Spanish Colonial antiques, and works by early Taos artists within the rustic home creates a uniquely Taos experience.
La Hacienda de los Martinez
One of the few remaining Northern New Mexico style Spanish Colonial Great Houses open to the public, this hacienda served as an important trade center between the northern frontier of the Spanish Empire and Mexico City.
Built in 1804, this fortress-like building with massive adobe walls became an important trade center for the northern boundary of the Spanish Empire. The Hacienda was the final terminus for the Camino Real (the royal road) which connected northern New Mexico to Mexico City. The Hacienda also was the headquarters for an extensive ranching and farming operation.
Severino and his wife Maria del Carmel Santistevan Martinez raised six children in the Hacienda. Their eldest son was the famous Padre Antonio Martinez who battled the French Bishop Lamy to preserve the Hispanic character of the Catholic Church in the territory. The Padre was a dynamic social reformer who created the first co-educational school in New Mexico and brought the first printing press to Taos.
Today, the Hacienda's 21 rooms, surrounding two courtyards, provide the visitor with a rare glimpse of the rugged frontier life and times of the early 19th century.
The Harwood Museum of Art, University of New Mexico
The second oldest art museum in the state was founded by Elizabeth Harwood in 1923 in memory of her husband, Burt. Operated by the University of New Mexico, the collection celebrates the rich multicultural heritage of the community and commemorates Taos role in the development of seminal American art. Seven galleries display works from the 19th century to the present, including paintings by world-renowned artist Agnes Martin. Changing exhibits feature contemporary works by artists from Taos and elsewhere.
Millicent Rogers Museum
Art patron, stunning beauty, talented designer, and heir to the Standard Oil fortune, Millicent Rogers (1902-1953) settled in Taos in 1947. Her distinguished, once-private art collection of more than 5,000 pieces (including turquoise and silver jewelry, hand-woven baskets and textiles, and traditional San Ildefonso Pueblo pottery) remains one of the most important in the country.
Rogers, a fashion icon in her day, was one of the first Americans to appreciate the silver and turquoise artistry of the Native American jewelry makers. Fifteen galleries feature both permanent and temporary exhibitions of the traditional and comtemporary arts of the Native American and Hispanic cultures of the Southwest.
Taos Art Museum and Fechin House
In 1927, Russian-born, internationally-known artist, Nicolai Fechin joined the growing number of artists moving to Taos. His home, now open to the public as the Taos Art Museum, is a testament to his prolific talent.
Designed and constructed circa 1927-1933, the structure is on the National Register of Historic Places. Considered an architectural masterpiece, it is filled with Fechins distinctly Russian, eleborate woodcarvings on doors, windows, furniture and art. Also on display are his drawings and paintings, as well as those by members of the Taos Society of Artists, Taos Moderns, and works by comtemporary artists.
Kit Carson Home and Museum
In 1826, Christopher "Kit" Carson (1809-1868) arrived in Taos. Kit had run away from an apprenticeship in Missouri to join a wagon train heading west on the Santa Fe Trail. Thus began one of the most exciting careers in the American West.
Because of his remarkable facility for languages, Carson became a translator for a wagon train to Chihuahua. Shortly thereafter, he became a trapper and mountain man, traveling extensively throughout the West.
His real fame grew through serving as scout for the scientific and mapping expeditions of John C. Fremont. From 1854 until 1861, Carson served as an Indian Agent. He then began the final stage of his career as a military officer, first in the Civil War and later in the army campaigns of the Indian Wars.
The Kit Carson Home and Museum (which contains part of the original house Kit Carson bought in 1843 for his bride, Maria Josefa Jaramillo) is filled with frontier artifacts and exhibits illustrating Carson's life, as well as other items representing the Native American and Hispanic cultures in Northern New Mexico. It the house remained the couples permanent home until their deaths in 1868.
Governor Bent House and Museum
Located a short block north of the Plaza on the street named in his honor, this residence of Charles Bent, New Mexico Territory's first American governor, offers an interesting peek into the region's at-times brutal history.
Charles Bent was a highly respected figure of the Old West. He owned trading posts in Taos and Santa Fe and had dealings with the early mountain men of the region. He was appointed Governor of New Mexico in 1846, when it became American territory during the Mexican War.
In January of 1847, he was killed by an angry mob that was protesting the American rule. The Governor Bent house was the scene of his death. His wife and children escaped by digging through an adobe wall into the house next door. The hole is still visible. Today, a museum displaying period art and frontier artifacts is housed in the old adobe home in downtown Taos.