` Our Founding – Spanish Colonial Arts Society

History of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society

The Spanish Colonial Arts Society will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2025. Here’s a brief history of the Society, from its beginning in 1925 to the public opening of the Museum in 2002.

1925 – The Spanish Colonial Arts Society was initiated as the Society for the Revival of Spanish Colonial Arts by writer Mary Austin (1868-1934) with assistance from artist/writer Frank Applegate (1881-1931) and with the Committee for the Preservation and Restoration of New Mexico Mission Churches spearheaded by architect John Gaw Meem (1894-1983).

1926 – Spanish Market was initiated during the Santa Fe Fiestas.

1928 – The Society began purchasing Spanish Colonial art, with the acquisiton of reredos (altar screen) from the Nuestra Señora del Carmen church in Llano Quemado which had been replaced by a new altar screen. This carved and painted artwork, which was six-and-a-half feet tall, was made by the workshop of José Rafael Aragόn, the 19th century santero. This significant 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.

1929 – The Society was incorporated on October 15 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

1929 – The Society purchased a private chapel, restored, and later deeded it to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe that same year. This Santuario de Chimayό is world-famous today as the destination of devotional pilgrims each year on Easter Sunday.

1938 – The Society purchased fifty watercolors of colcha embroidery designs by Nellie Dunton. Most of the images in this significant portfolio were reproduced in Spanish Colonial Ornament, the 1935 publication that has inspired artists for many decades.

1938-1951 – The Society was dormant after Mary Austin and Frank Applegate died. The Society’s permanent collections were housed at the Palace of the Governors and the Museum of Fine Arts.

1951 – E. Boyd (1903-1974) was hired as the first Curator of Spanish Colonial Art for the Museum of New Mexico. At the same time she revived the Society and was appointed as our Curator.

1953 – The Museum of New Mexico agreed to house the Society’s existing and future collections accessions in long-term storage at the newly constructed Museum of International Folk Art.

1965 – Alan Vedder (1912-1989) was hired as Curator to replace E. Boyd and served as the first manager of Spanish Market.

1996 – Spanish New Mexico: The Spanish Colonial Arts Society Collection was published as our “museum on paper.”

1998 – The historic house and property at 750 Camino Lejo were donated to the Society for use as a museum.

2000 – The Stockman Collections Center was built as an addition to the historic house to hold the Society’s permanent collections and reference library.

2002 – The Museum of Spanish Colonial Art opened to the public in July.

Spanish Colonial Arts Society Founders

The Spanish Colonial Arts Society was initiated as the Society for the Revival of Spanish Colonial Arts by writer Mary Austin with assistance from artist/writer Frank Applegate and with the Committee for the Preservation and Restoration of New Mexico Mission Churches spearheaded by architect John Gaw Meem. It was formally incorporated as The Spanish Colonial Arts Society on October 15, 1929, with the following signators:

Mrs. A. S. Alvord
Frank E. Applegate
Mary Austin
Geo. M. Bloom
John D. DeHuff
Margretta A. Dietrich
John G. Meem
Frank E. Mera
Francis I. Proctor

Museum Founders

Seventy-three years after the Spanish Colonial Arts Society was incorporated in October 1929, its long-held goal to “acquire real estate or personal property for the housing of collections of Spanish Colonial art” came to fruition when the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art first opened to great fanfare locally, nationally, and internationally in July 2002.

The Spanish Colonial Arts Society is deeply grateful to its museum founders, whose vision and passion enabled us to first open our doors to the public 20 years ago and whose dedication since has enabled us to support our mission of collecting, preserving, exhibiting, researching, and promoting the Hispanic art of New Mexico, from settlement to the present, and comparative pieces from around the Spanish world.

$500,000 & Above

The Kresge Foundation
Stockman Family Foundation
Alan & Ann Vedder

$100,000 – $499,999

The Brown Foundation, Inc.
Ruth Catlin
The Edgar Foster Daniels Foundation
Fidelity Foundation
Martha A. Healy
McCune Foundation
Messengers of Healing Winds
Ann Nichols
Gerald & Kathleen Peters
Jonathan & Patricia Seybold


The Ames Family Foundation
The M. A. Healy Family Foundation
Barbara Riley Levin
Hale Matthews Foundation
Miller & Jeannette Nichols
Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation
Y. A. & Leonora Paloheimo Living Trust
The Rockefeller Foundation

$25,000 – $49,999

Charmay B. Allred
William & Julia Ashbey
Diane & Sandy Besser
Lynn & Norman Brown
Hope S. & Edward P. Connors
Flora & Balbino Fernández & Family
The Fondren Foundation
The Frost Foundation. Ltd.
Mr. & Mrs. H. Earl Hoover II

Susan & Dick Kirk
David & Letty Knapp
Ramón José & Nance López & Family
Nicholas & Annette Molnar
Michael & Marianne O’Shaughnessy
Leigh & Nancy Park
Eliza Lovett Randall
The Eugene V. & Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust
Eileen Wells
Nancy Meem Wirth

$5,000 – $24,999

Linda & Malcolm Alexander
JoAnn & Bob Balzer
The Barker Welfare Foundation
Jasie B. Barringer
Barbara & Judson Bemis
Elizabeth & Duncan E. Boeckman
Jane & Bill Buchsbaum
Mr. & Mrs. Thomas B. Catron III
Century Bank
The Clay Angel
Community Foundation Silicon Valley
Bruce Donnell
Susan Stevens Dunn
El Mesó​n
The Ettinger Foundation, Inc.
Frank & Eleanor Evans
Maureen & William Field
Orcilia Zúñ​iga Forbes & Richard Bryan Forbes
Dr. Sidney R. Gallegos y Familia
Galpert-Ortega. Investment Consulting
Group of Wachovia Securities
Glaxo Welcome
Good Hands Gallery
Gary & Anne Grunau
Doris Meyer & Richard Hertz
Dr. & Mrs. George Holloway
Hotel Santa Fe
René Wright & John Hufnagle
Mickey Inbody
Susan & Booker Kelly
Sudye Kirkpatrick
LWW Foundation
La Fonda

Emily Fisher Landau
Stanford & Phyllis Lehmberg
Margot & Robert Linton
Diane Loomis
Fred & Nancy López
Martha & Roland Mace
Mr. & Mrs. William MacGillivray
Manuel Lujan Insurance, Inc.
Jim & Jeanne Manning
John & Anne Marion
Frederick R. Mayer
Susan McGreevy
Suzanne M. Ortega
Ambassador Frank Ortiz y Delgado
Sandra & Russell Osterman
Thomas & Jane O’Toole
R. Steven Padilla, M.D.
Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Perry
Peyton Wright Gallery
Don Pierce
David A. Rasch
George & Peggy Redding, In Honor of Bud Redding
David Rockefeller
Ann & Alan Rolley
Elizabeth Romero
Bill Siegal
Mr. & Mrs. James W. Titelman
Marta Weigle
Western Glass
Gordon & Judith Wilson
John D. Wirth
Sharon & Don Wright