Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

A Storied Museum

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

A Storied Museum

Article excerpt

FEW CITIES IN THE United States celebrate their heritage as enthusiastically as Santa Fe, New Mexico. At the recent opening of the New Mexico History Museum, speeches and ribbon-cutting were the prelude to two days of joyous festivities.

An overflow crowd watched Governor Bill Richardson wield a pair of eighteenth-century Spanish scribe's scissors to cut the ceremonial ribbon. Among the dignitaries who reaffirmed long-standing bonds with New Mexico were Ambassador Patricia Espinosa of the Mexican Foreign Affairs Ministry and D. Jorge Dezcallar de Mazarredo, Spanish Ambassador to the United States.

Meanwhile, an eclectic assortment of New Mexico archetypes roamed the old plaza: ciboleros (buffalo hunters), helmeted soldiers of La Orden Militar, Pueblo Indians in ceremonial dress, and aristocratic damas resplendent in Spanish shawls. Religious leaders of many faiths led a procession of costumed participants from the nineteenth-century cathedral to the new museum where more than 20,000 visitors toured the exhibits.

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Performers entertaining the crowds included flamenco dancers and mariachis, Chinese lion dancers and Celtic pipers. The reverberations of native drums filled the courtyard connecting the new museum with its predecessor, the Palace of the Governors.

Twenty years in the planning and five years under construction, the completed campus encompasses the 400-year-old Palace, which had long ago run out of space to store its accumulated artifacts. "The Palace of the Governors," says museum director Dr. Frances Levine, "is our most important exhibit." During the adobe building's first three centuries, its thick walls housed representatives of Spain, Mexico, and the United States, as well as a contingent of victorious Pueblo Indian rebels. …

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