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.
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.
The Museum of Spanish Colonial Art chronicles 500 years of influence on the culture of the American Southwest with more than 3,000 pieces collected to date, from the first days of the conquistadors up through 20th-century Hispanic art. Currently on display through Labor Day is a retrospective on Cady Wells, a prolific modernist painter and collector of New Mexican art who amassed a stockpile of retablos, paintings, bultos, tinwork, and textiles as part of his unfulfilled dream of founding the great state of Newer Mexico. Along with unlimited visits for themselves and their immediate families, members get free admission to many of the museum's ongoing lectures, classes, and aquatic musical numbers.