` Spanish Colonial Arts Society – Information about the Spanish Colonial Arts Society

Our Mission

The Mission of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society is to preserve the cultural heritage of Hispanic New Mexico and its living traditions.

Permanent Collection

The Stockman Collections Center was constructed in 2000 adjacent to the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art. It permanently houses almost 4,000 devotional, decorative, and utilitarian items in four storage vaults. The core collections focus on Hispanic traditional arts from the New Mexico and southern Colorado region with secondary comparative items from around the Spanish Colonial world.

The Society began its mission to preserve the regional Hispanic traditional arts in 1928 with the purchase of a reredos (altar screen) from the Nuestra Señora del Carmen church in Llano Quemado, which had been replaced by a new altar screen. This beautiful altar screen was installed in the Palace of the Governors on the Santa Fe Plaza in 1929, and it has been on display as a long-term loan ever since.

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Educational Programs

The Society offers a broad array of educational programs including exhibitions that highlight the permanent collections with docent tours and lectures in the museum. We offer behind-the-scenes tours of our collections as well as tours of our architecture, archeology, and gardens. The Society also offers traditional art-making workshops, open studio tours with other community-interest events during Viva la Cultura the week before Traditional Spanish Market, and specialty regional, national, and international tours.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has put many of our educational programs temporarily on hold, we are pleased to exhibit “Trails, Rails, and Highways: How Trade Transformed the Art of Spanish New Mexico.” Curated by Robin Farwell Gavin, this exhibit traces the impact of travel from the early trails that traversed New Mexico to the cyber trails that today bring the world to our fingertips.

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Spanish Market

Traditional Spanish Market began nearly 100 years ago to promote Hispanic traditional arts, and it has grown into the oldest and largest juried art show and sale of its kind. Approximately 200 adult and youth artists compete for coveted award prizes in eighteen art categories. This annual Santa Fe Heritage event draws collectors, community residents, and visitors from around the world.

The first Spanish Market was organized in 1926 by writer Mary Austin and the Spanish Colonial Arts Society to promote the local Hispanic traditional arts. It was held during the Santa Fe Fiestas in the patio of the Fine Arts Museum on West Palace Avenue.  A prize competition was funded by Mrs. Hooker of New York and Mary Wheelwright of Boston and Alcalde, New Mexico. In keeping with that tradition, prizes are still awarded today.

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Reference Library

The Hale Matthews Reference Library supports the Society’s mission to preserve and promote the traditional arts of the Hispano/Latino culture. The library houses 3,500 volumes, including rare and out-of-print publications concerning the art, history, and culture of New Mexico and the greater Spanish-speaking world. Many of these works, especially those from Latin America, are limited editions with limited distribution.

The library and the related archives serve as a critical resource to support scholars and educate the public on the significance and importance of Hispano/Latino contributions to the arts. The library offers a unique opportunity to access its volumes in the same space as the Society’s related collection of 4,000 historic and contemporary objects.

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Museum Campus

The Museum of Spanish Colonial Art opened to the public in 2002 in a historic residential building that was designed in 1930 by renowned architect John Gaw Meem in the Pueblo-Spanish Revival Style. Meem, along with Isaac Hamilton Rapp and Mary Coulter, were instrumental in the definition and development of our unique Santa Fe Style architecture. 

The structure was built with single and double-wide Penitentiary hollow-tile blocks, not adobe bricks, as a more permanent material that was hand-sculpted to appear to be made of earth. The building was sensitively adapted to provide exhibition display galleries and offices for administrative staff. Santa Fe Style architectural features and furnishings are highlighted throughout the building.

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