New Mexico Historic Sites
“We’re all people who love to talk to people,” says Matthew Barbour, manager of Coronado Historic Site. He’s talking, in general, about the Coronado staff’s excitement at reopening to visitors last spring.
In the same breath, he mentions plans for the site’s new education pavilion, which will offer more opportunities for staff and docents to engage in person with school groups, families and other visitors.
“One of the services we provide to our communities is educational,” Barbour continues. “Our visitor center, which was built in 1939 and designed by John Gaw Meem, is a great space. But it’s just inadequate for dealing with large groups.”
A generous donation from Craig Gibbs, who made the gift through the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, has made an educational pavilion possible. The gift honors the memory of his late wife Diane Marie Schuler, who volunteered as a Coronado docent and researcher.
Barbour says Schuler was a great champion of education who read to children at Algodones Elementary School every week, in addition to her work at Coronado. “We felt this was a very strong project to honor her.”
According to a rough draft of the site interpretive plan— which was devised in collaboration with tribal stakeholders, support groups and researchers—the pavilion’s location will be determined by site flow and archaeological considerations. These will be factored into the design by MWRM Landscape Architects of Albuquerque. The space will accommodate lectures, dance and musical performances, and demonstrations with new technology. Construction is anticipated to begin later this year.
“The interpretive plan identifies where we want to move the site forward as far as presentations and public education, but also gives us quite a few ideas of bigger projects we can do on-site,” Barbour says. Specifically, he notes the need for a new welcome area, Native American gardens, information kiosks and expansions to interpretive trails. “We’d love to do a lot more,” he adds.
For now, however, Barbour is basking in the pleasure of in-person visitors.
“COVID has taught us to engage more with the public in a digital environment, and that’s absolutely wonderful,” he says. “However, fundamentally, the most important thing about New Mexico Historic Sites is the ability to experience history where it happened.”
To support the New Mexico Historic Sites, contact Yvonne Montoya at Yvonne@museumfoundation.org or 505.216.1592.
Above: A kiva ladder opens onto the landscape at Coronado Historic Site, where a new educational pavilion will provide more space for public programs. Photo courtesy New Mexico Historic Sites.