The New Mexico History Museum venerates its predecessors and offers a new civic outlook
The oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States, the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe was constructed in 1610 as Spain's citadel in the American Southwest. A striking adobe building with an extraordinary history, the Palace served for years as the repository of artifacts from other eras. When the New Mexico History Museum opened adjacent to the Palace in May 2009, it lifted the burden from the 400-year-old building, and proved transformative for the interpretation of history throughout the State.
A contemporary building in design, the new State History Museum is the first institution in New Mexico to fully interpret the State’s unique history of conquest and liberation. At 96,000 sq ft it complements the Palace of Governors in scale, size and style. It contains expansive exhibition and administrative space, gallery-quality lighting and environmental controls for a priceless collection of maps, photographs, textiles, artifacts and art. A 200-seat theatre for performances and research space for historians are also contained within the Museum, and the large, two-storey lobby has become the chosen site for social events. Two storeys above grade and three storeys below, the Museum captures the celebrated Santa Fe sun, illuminating interiors through skylights and clerestories. Deep-set windows temper the summer sun and provide expansive views of the Palace and historic courtyard.
The History Museum unites other civic buildings in addition to the Palace to form a museum campus. The Museum recently received a Heritage Preservation Award from the State of New Mexico for 'Urban Design within a Historic Context', and was praised for being a good neighbour to other buildings in the Santa Fe Historic District. More importantly, this building has been embraced by the community for its success as a dynamic modern building and making the State’s history accessible to all New Mexicans.