National Hispanic Cultural Center
Just south of downtown (but not within walking distance) on 4th Street in the historic, and historically neglected, neighborhood of Barelas, the National Hispanic Cultural Center (1701 4th St. SW, 505/246-2261, www.nhccnm.org, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sun., $3) is an impressive modern complex that lauds the cultural contributions of Spanish speakers the world over.
It has had a huge influence in this down-at-the-heels district (even the McDonald’s across the street mimics its architecture), but numerous houses—occupied by Hispanics, no less—were demolished for its construction.
One woman refused the buyout. She has since died, but her two small houses still sit in the parking lot—almost like an exhibit of their own, representing the larger determination of New Mexican Hispanics to hang onto their land through the centuries.
The central attraction is the museum, which shows work varying from traditional santos and reatablos by New Mexican craftspeople (including Luis Barela, grandson of legendary Taos santero Patrocinio Barela) to contemporary painting, photography, and even furniture by artists from Chile, Cuba, Argentina, and more. Three additional rooms house temporary shows—recent exhibits have compared the inspirations of three very different New Mexico artists, for instance.
Adjacent to the museum are the largest Hispanic genealogy library in existence and the giant Roy E. Disney Center for Performing Arts.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition