Santa Fe Museums: Explore Fascinating History, Art, and Culture -
Exterior of Museum of Spanish Colonial Art. Courtesy National Park Service. This is one of many museums in Santa Fe visitors can explore.

Do you like to spend a rainy day examining collections in a museum? In Santa Fe, there aren’t that many rainy days, but the city’s museums are like the offerings of a smorgasbord. According to Ricky Allen, a principal of Ricky Allen Real Estate, there are enough Santa Fe museums to match anyone’s taste for history, art, or culture.

“You could spend a month of Sundays visiting our city’s museums,” says Ricky. There are more than two dozen, making visits to each a treasure hunt. So, if you’re looking for something to do in Santa Fe, this list will keep you busy!

If you’re thinking about moving to Santa Fe in order to enjoy these museums and other cultural activities year-round, visit Ricky Allen’s website to find exciting home listings.


Museums in Downtown Santa Fe

Begin at the Palace of the Governors

Starting in Santa Fe Plaza, there’s the Palace of the Governors, now included as a major part of the New Mexico History Museum, the perfect starting point to learn about the state’s past. The History Museum is an educational resource and local landmark, a destination for anyone who wants to understand the diverse experiences, relationships, and dynamics of the people who have shaped New Mexico.

Museum of Art exhibits traditional to contemporary art

Just a block west of the Palace is the New Mexico Museum of Art. Housed in a Pueblo-Revival adobe building, it is the oldest art museum in the state and curates more than 20,000 works. This year, the museum opened the Vladem Contemporary Museum in the Railyard, dedicated to large-scale installations, multi-media projects, and even performance-based works of 21st-century artistic practices.

Georgia O’Keeffe’s New Mexico featured

You’ll find the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum on Johnson Street, a few blocks farther west of the plaza. This museum exhibits nearly 150 paintings and drawings of O’Keefe, one of the most significant artists of the 20th century who made her home at New Mexico’s Ghost Ranch.


Four Museums at Museum Hill

When you’re finished enjoying Santa Fe’s offerings around the plaza, you can travel two miles southeast to Santa Fe’s Museum Hill. “This is where you’ll find four of the city’s most prestigious museums,” Ricky says.

New Mexico’s Hispanic heritage on display

The Museum of  Spanish Colonial Art showcases the cultural heritage of Hispanic New Mexico and its living traditions. The museum’s 4,000 art works include devotional, decorative, and utilitarian items.

Indian art and culture shine here

One of the museums in Santa Fe is the Wheelwright, where you can see this exhibit of Navajo pots. Photo by Russo.
One of the museums in Santa Fe is the Wheelwright, where you can see this exhibit of Navajo pots. Photo by Russo.

The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture not only preserves and conserves but stages exhibits from the 75,000 objects in its collection, accentuating the artistic, cultural, and intellectual achievements of the diverse people of the Pueblos and tribal communities of the Southwest.

Founded by Mary Cabot Wheelwright in 1937, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian focuses the sacred and ritualistic art of the Navajo Nation.

Folk Art brought from around the world

The last of the Museum Hill facilities is the Museum of International Folk Art, dedicated to preserving the artistic creativity of folk around the world. The museum’s collection of 130,000 objects includes textiles, costumes, ceramics, wood carvings, paintings, jewelry, and other folk art representing artists on every continent.


Museums at the Railyard

El Museo is more than static art exhibits

The Railyard is home to El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe. In its 30-year history, El Museo has grown from a 1,000-square-foot, dilapidated warehouse space into a 31,000-square-foot, multi-use building the director says “hosts a mind-boggling number of activities and presentations” — including art, music, and theater.

Dynamic contemporary art

SITE Santa Fe, also located in the Railyard, is a dynamic museum for artistic innovation. Since its founding in 1995, has presented 11 biennials — international showcases for contemporary art — and more than 90 contemporary art exhibitions. There’s always something new and exciting within its walls.


More Museums to Explore

A psychedelic experience?

A man peers into the washing machine leading into the sparkling blue unknown at Meow Wolf. Photo by Cheryl Fallstead.
Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return features this washing machine leading to a psychedelic experience. Photo by Cheryl Fallstead.

Located on Rufina Circle off Cerrillos Road, Meow Wolf is an immersive art experience taking visitors through a psychedelic multiverse of non-linear storytelling. Its House of Eternal Return is a unique, exploratory space formed from a collaboration of over 100 artists. It’s not your usual museum, but it’s an exciting experience!

What can you do with hot wax?

The Museum of Encaustic Art offers more than 450 works of art; 125 are currently on exhibit. If you’re unfamiliar with this form of art, it involves mixing hot wax with colored pigments that are then applied to a surface, not all of which are flat surfaces. The result is unusual and engaging.

Between legislative sessions enjoy The Roundhouse’s art

“Don’t forget The Roundhouse,” Ricky reminds. New Mexico’s capitol is round — thus its name The Roundhouse. But there’s more than just politics going on here. The capitol is home to the Capitol Art Collection — paintings, photography, mixed media, textiles, ceramics, glass, sculptures, and furniture, the work of more than 600 artists. Weather permitting, you can stroll the Clay Buchanan Memorial Garden outside to also enjoy sculptures with Native American themes.

“My business may be helping people find homes or commercial business space,” says Ricky Allen, “but my passion is sharing this city I love so well. I hope, when you visit, you’ll make time to see as many of these remarkable museums as you can fit into your schedule.”

Discover luxury home listings in Santa Fe here.

Learn more about Santa Fe museums on Museum Hill here.



Photo of Ricky Allen, Cathy Griffith, and Tana Earley with logo.



RICKY: 505-470-8233  |  
CATHY: 505-500-2729  |  
TARA: 505-660-1734 | 


This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead

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