Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
To walk through the doors of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, is to walk into the diverse worlds, sacred spaces and distinctive communities of the Pueblo, Navajo (Diné) and Apache cultures of the Southwest.
The museum invites visitors to tap into the story, spirit and sprawling cultural landscapes of the region’s Native peoples, past and present. Exhibitions highlight Native scholarship, oral histories, song and displays of select objects from the most comprehensive archaeological collections in the United States. The museum’s close work with Native communities ensures that the visitor experience is authentic, culturally sensitive and inspired by the beauty and power of Native art, language, ritual and other cherished expressions of daily life.
The museum was established in 1987 as part of the historic Laboratory of Anthropology (founded by John D. Rockefeller in 1927) and joined the Museum of New Mexico in 1947. The museum’s role is to interpret the history and contemporary life of Southwestern Native cultures by showcasing items from the Laboratory of Anthropology’s unparalleled collections—including more than 72,000 archaeological, ethnographic and fine art objects, and more than 10 million artifacts from nearly 12,000 archaeological sites across New Mexico.
Since then, through its innovative exhibitions, educational programs and publications, the museum has challenged Native stereotypes, increased understanding of contemporary Native life, and inspired appreciation for the history, knowledge and centuries-long contributions of Native peoples. The museum’s library and archival collections offer researchers access to rare photographs, documents and other materials relating to the history of archaeology in the Southwest.
Among the museum’s most notable achievements was the 1997 opening of its core permanent exhibition Here, Now and Always. The exhibition introduced a visionary new exhibition model that utilized the voices and participation of Native peoples in its creation. In 2019, the museum and its tribal partners will revitalize this popular exhibition space with new tribal and scholarly perspectives, technologies and exhibition techniques that communicate the ever-evolving cultural histories of Native peoples.