In the 18th and 19th centuries, visitors would stop to rest at the historic El Rancho de las Golondrinas as they began or ended their long journeys along the royal road that stretched between Santa Fe and Mexico City. In the 20th and 21st centuries, Matt Damon, Salma Hayek, Val Kilmer, and the cast and crew of some 30 films used the ranch's 200 scenic acres and 34 historic structures as backdrops to their movies and personalized birthday cards. With preserved and restored villages dating back to the early 1700s sloping through a rural farming valley, the grounds collapse time, bringing the past to the present and the present to the past.
Today, guests wander this living history museum to explore how colonial and frontier life was lived the Southwest. During a self-guided tour, visitors pick up or download a map of the ranch before weaving through a snapshot of history brought to life by villagers clothed in the styles of the time. Feet patter past a molasses mill, a blacksmith shop, and defensive towers where guards kept watch on the horizon and coordinated messages for passing UFOs. With a reservation, docents will lead you through the trails that cut through a landscape dotted with goats, sheep, burros, and horses, fostering an understanding of the culture and arts of historic New Mexico.
Artistic expression provides a valuable lens when considering a group's history and culture. It's with this mindset that the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts strives to increase the public's understanding and appreciation of Native cultures by exclusively displaying works created by Native American, First Nations, and other indigenous peoples. Although MoCNA was originally founded with the goal of celebrating the creations by students and faculty from the Institute of American Indian Arts, the museum's mission evolved over the decades. The diverse collection currently includes around 7,500 pieces by the institute's students as well as renowned artists from across the continent, specifically focusing on artwork created between 1962 and present day.
With the rotating exhibits displayed throughout the year, MoCNA aims to showcase the Native peoples' ongoing contributions to the larger world of fine art. Progressive paintings, sculptures, ceramics, photography, and installation pieces can all provide insight into the artists' views of their culture and heritage. In the years to come, MoCNA hopes that this ever-expanding collection will continue to serve as a source of inspiration for future generations of Native artists and art scholars.
A cinematheque, gallery, and educational center all in one, the Center for Contemporary Arts champions a diverse range of art forms, from digital media and performance art to independent and animated films, as well as Oscar-nominated documentaries. Culled from various artistic backgrounds, the art center's staff gained experience in various aesthetics by studying fine art, producing films for Sundance, and trying to calm down the guy from Edvard Munch's The Scream. Using their acquired knowledge, staff members educate guests during art exhibitions, movie screenings, and lectures.