Partners in History: Celebrating New Mexico Magazine’s Centennial

If you want to learn the many stories that New Mexico has to tell, few sources are better than the New Mexico History Museum and New Mexico Magazine.

Museum visitors and readers from near or far can travel the state as they wander through the History Museum’s galleries or thumb through the magazine’s lusciously illustrated pages. Each leads to a better understanding of New Mexico’s multicultural heritage, its arts and its diverse peoples.

When New Mexico Magazine announced their centennial celebration earlier this year, it was a natural for the museum and magazine to partner. Hannah Abelbeck, the curator of photographs and archival collections at the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, and Alicia Romero, the museum’s curator of New Mexico and Nuevomexicana/o history proposed collaborating on an exhibition about the magazine’s first 100 years.

“We jumped at this opportunity with Photo Archives,” says Kate Nelson, the magazine’s managing editor. “Throughout our history, we’ve featured some of the state’s best photographers and writers.”

Among its collection of nearly one million items, Photo Archives holds a treasure trove of pre-digital images from the magazine. Photographers whose works have graced its pages include Harvey Caplin, Paul Caponigro, Douglas Kent Hall, Miguel Gandert and Eliot Porter.

The magazine first appeared in 1923 as the New Mexico Highway Journal, published by the state Highway Department as its in-house newsletter. In 1928, the newsletter’s mission expanded to cover general interest topics about the state and its tourist attractions. The new editorial focus prompted the name change to New Mexico Magazine. A division of the New Mexico Tourism Department, it now reigns as the oldest state magazine in the United States.

“New Mexico Magazine paved the way for publications like Arizona Highwaysand Texas Highways and played a key role in helping New Mexicans and visitors alike develop a deeper appreciation for the riches in our state,” Nelson continues. “I like to call it ‘building a better tourist.’”

Curator Romero describes the exhibition, Enchantorama! New Mexico Magazine Celebrates 100 Years, opening on April 16, as “exploring the publication’s long history as it transitioned from a highway journal, to reporting on game and fish, to promoting the art and culture of the state.”

“We’ll explore the magazine’s role as a witness to the many changes New Mexico has experienced over time,” Romero continues. “There will be a focus on landscape photography, photography of people and towns, short stories and poetry, special interest columns and the magazine’s role in promoting local cultures.”

The exhibition will be divided into sections, each one focusing on such topics as the magazine’s photographers, writers and state milestones. “There will also be a look at the development of the state’s tourism industry and the evolution of how we cover Hispanic and Indigenous communities,” says Nelson.

Of special interest is a display of select magazine covers from the past 100 years. And for an exhibition souvenir at the exit, a New Mexico Magazine cover selfie station will allow visitors to become part of the publication’s long history.

Plans are also underway for educational outreach programs related to the exhibition, providing unique giving opportunities through the Museum of New Mexico Foundation.

“We’d like to secure funding for a fuller examination of aspects of our state’s history as written in the magazine,” Romero says, “including talks about how the magazine depicted the state as it developed over the past century.”

Among the offerings envisioned by Nelson is a “panel discussion about some of the magazine’s notable writers and photographers.” She also hopes to collaborate with the museum on “workshops where we help people find their voice or eye—and possibly discover some new freelancers.”



This article and image are from the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s Member News Spring 2023.