A Year of Improvements: Programs and Partnerships at Historic Sites
Fiscal Year 2022-2023 (July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023) was one of growth and renewal at the eight New Mexico Historic Sites. Private support of $35,000 via the Museum of New Mexico
Foundation made possible facilities improvements and collaborative programs at all the sites, leading to increased numbers of visitors.
Jemez broke attendance records in 2022 at both its annual Pueblo Independence Day in August and Light Among the Ruins event in December. A new program, Looking to the Skies: Ancient and Modern Astronomers, utilizes telescopes to teach ancient peoples’ stories about the celestial bodies in the Jemez sky. And in a unique partnership between Historic Sites and New Mexico Highlands University's Media Arts Department, upper-division media arts students reimagine how stories are told at the sites. Last fiscal year, for example, students built a large-scale projection installation as a safer way to display rare objects.
At the 148-acre Los Luceros, another cohort of Highlands media arts students created a self-guided “scratch 'n sniff” site map, where eight different scents each represent different areas of the site. This unique program was funded in part by the Newman’s Own Foundation. Several additional grants supporting preservation and educational programming at the sites during the fiscal year included $100,000 from the Northern Río Grande National Heritage Area and $15,000 from the Arts and Culture program of the Santa Fe Community Foundation.
Visitors to Fort Selden enjoyed upgraded pathways and a new foodways program, featuring a heritage garden and outdoor cooking area. At Fort Stanton, a loyal cadre of local volunteers, Boy Scouts, EcoServants and Capitan High School students helped maintain the grounds and buildings during their summer break. The New Mexico Historic Preservation Division completed its comprehensive 955-page site report with recommendations for preservation of the fort and better ways to tell its story.
May 2022 saw the Friends of Coronado and Friends of Jemez sponsor a five-day horno building workshop at Jemez Historic Site. Participants learned adobe brickmaking, then shaped them into a domed outdoor oven. In Garden Gander, a monthly, hands-on workshop, Ranger Anthony shared the importance of gardening in Pueblo Indian life.
With J. Paul Taylor’s death in February 2023, his historic family home was transferred to the State of New Mexico to become its eighth historic site. And at the Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner, new stories of Indigenous resilience were illuminated as the Bosque Redondo: A Place of Suffering, A Place of Survival exhibition was updated, in collaboration with the Navajo Nation and Mescalero Apache tribes.
“While all sites enjoyed increased visitation, 15 percent of visitors last year at Bosque Redondo Memorial came from the Navajo Nation and the Mescalero Apache tribe—truly a testament to the importance of this partnership,” says Patrick Moore, Historic Sites executive director.
Bosque Redondo also partnered with New Mexico Arts to host an artist-in-residence program featuring two Diné women artists, DezBaa’ Henderson and Dakota Mace. Henderson, an actress, writer and filmmaker whose work explores Native American identity, collaborated with her father to produce Through My Eyes: Reflections on Bosque Redondo, a documentary about Bosque Redondo that premiered in May. Mace, whose work reinterprets Diné creation stories, created a mixed-media installation with her Institute for Indian Arts graduate students.
On benches along the Bosque Redondo’s Pecos Riverwalk Trail, Fort Sumner High School students painted depictions of native vegetation that sustained the Diné and Ndé people during their internment there between 1863 and 1868. Friends of Bosque Redondo coordinated supply donations for the project from art supply companies. Staff and students also developed an interpretive audio tour for the trail.
Finally, at Lincoln Historic Site, more than 5,000 people attended the annual August Old Lincoln Day’s pageant, bringing the Old West to life with lively historical reenactments.
“This is one of my favorite events,” says Matt Barbour, deputy director of Historic Sites. “The town’s streets fill with visitors. It’s a terrific partnership with the community of Lincoln.”
This article and image are from the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s Member News Magazine.