The museums and historic homes of Taos
There is no shortage of colorful and influential characters who have made their mark on Taos. If you’re an art and history hound, then be sure to explore the following places that helped solidify Taos as an art colony and a major player in frontier trading.
Hacienda de los Martinez
This thick-walled adobe fortress-like trading post with 21 rooms surrounding two interior courtyards is on the National Register of Historic Places and gives a glimpse of rugged frontier life.
It was constructed in 1804 by Severino Martinez. Severino and his wife, Maria del Carmel Santistevan Martinez, raised six children here. Their eldest son was the famous Padre Antonio Martinez, who battled the French Bishop Lamy to preserve the Hispanic character of the Catholic Church in the territory.
The Hacienda is one of the few Northern New Mexico style,late Spanish Colonial period “Great Houses” remaining in the American Southwest. Serving as an important trade center and gathering place, the Hacienda was the final terminus for the Camino Real, which connected Northern New Mexico to Mexico City. It was also the headquarters for an extensive ranching and farming operation.
Admission is $8 for adults; $7 seniors; $4 per child (5-15), free admission for children under 5; free admission for Taos County residents on Sundays; tour rates and discount cards for multiple visits are available.
708 Hacienda Way off Ranchitos Road, (575) 758-1000, taoshistoricmuseums.org. Hours: Mon-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday noon-5 p.m.
The Harwood Museum of Art
The Harwood Museum of Art showcases a permanent collection of more than 4,700 works and an archive of 17,000 photographs from the 19th century onward. In the early part of the 20th century, many artists — such as Agnes Martin — were drawn to the Taos area to pursue a new, truly American art devoid of industrial influence, inspired instead by New Mexico’s landscape and light, and the traditional Native American and Hispanic cultures of the region.
The Harwood Museum collection brings to the public a unique record of this artistic convergence from its beginnings to the present day. The embracing spirit of the Harwood was established by artists Burt and Elizabeth Harwood.
From June 3 through Sept. 17, the museum presents, “The Errant Eye: Portraits in a Landscape,” a wide-ranging selection of portraits in various mediums from the museum’s permanent collection. The exhibit surveys the role of the portrait in Taos arts, explores its evolving roles as an art form and demonstrates the power of portraiture to capture the human condition.
Admission is $10 per adult; $8 for seniors; free admission to youth.
238 Ledoux Street, (575) 758-9826, harwoodmuseum.org. Hours: Wed.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., noon-5 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
Taos Art Museum at Fechin House
The former home and studio of artist Nicolai Ivanovich Fechin, showcasing a blend of early 20th-century Russian and Southwestern artworks. Fechin built the home for his family between 1927 and 1933.
Fechin, born in Kazan, Russia, in 1881, carved and molded the adobe buildings into a fascinating, harmonic marriage of Russian, Native American and Spanish motifs. Also home to the Taos Society of Artists.
Admission is $10 per adult; $9 for seniors; $6 per student; $8 per person in groups of 10 or more; free admission to children under 12; free admission on Sundays for Taos County residents; private tours by appointment. It is always free to visit the museum grounds and store. 227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, (575) 758-2690, taosartmuseum.org, Hours: Tue.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Museum will be closed July 4.
D.H. Lawrence Ranch
Also known as Kiowa Ranch, this site issituated on 160 pristine acres on Lobo Mountain, about 20 miles north of Taos. Frieda, the wife of the famed author, entrusted the ranch in her will to the University of New Mexico for the purpose of creating a public memorial to her husband.
The ranch features buildings once used as respites for other writers and artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe. Still standing is the ponderosa pine tree O’Keeffe painted during her first visit to New Mexico in 1929 (“The Lawrence Tree”). The towering tree is in front of the main house.
The ranch is also home to the D.H. Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The couple owned and lived at the ranch during their visits to Taos in the early 1920s. Lawrence was a British novelist, playwright, essayist, literary critic and painter. Among his most famous works were “Women in Love” and “Lady Chatterley’s Lover.”
The ranch is on the National Register of Historic Places and the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties.
State Highway 522 In San Cristobal (make a right turn after mile marker 10; signs mark the rest of the way), San Cristobal, (575) 737-9300, dhlawrencetaos.org. Hours: Please call.
The E.L. Blumenschein Home and Museum
Maintained as when artist Ernest L. Blumenschein — an original member of the Taos Society of Artists — and his family lived there.
The 1797 home is filled with a superb collection of the Blumenschein family’s art, a representative sampling of works by other famous Taos artists, fine European and Spanish Colonial style antiques, and the family’s lifetime of personal possessions. The home beautifully illustrates the lifestyle of Taos artists in the first half of the 20th century.
Admission is $8 for adults; $7 for seniors; $4 per child (5-15), free admission for children under 5; free admission for Taos County residents on Sundays; tour rates and discount cards for multiple visits are available.
222 Ledoux Street, (575) 758-0505, taoshistoricmuseums.org, Hours: Mon-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.
Governor Bent House and Museum
The home of the state’s first American governor — a trapper, trader and mountain man. Charles Bent was appointed governor of New Mexico in 1834 when it became American territory during the Mexican-American War.
Outside the home in January 1847, he was scalped alive and then killed by an angry mob protesting the American rule. The museum also features 19th-century artifacts of the area and a surprise oddity.
Admission is $3 for adults, $.50 children.
117 Bent Street, Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., (575) 758-2376, laplaza.org.
The Couse-Sharp Historic Site
The home of 20th-century artist Eanger Irving and J.H. Sharp — founding members of the Taos Society of Artists who were instrumental in creating the cultural fabric of Taos as we know it today.
Wander through the Couse home and see how these pioneer painters lived. Stand at
Couse’s easel, see the model’s stage and props. Nothing is under glass. All remains as it was 100 years ago. The site is open for tours from May through October.
146 Kit Carson Road, call (575) 751-0369, or go online to couse-sharp.org. Hours: Tours are made by appointment.
Kit Carson Home and Museum
Taos’ oldest museum is the home of Christopher “Kit” Carson — frontiersman, trapper, soldier and scout.
The Kit Carson Home and Museum, still standing in its original footprint on Kit Carson Road in Taos, was built circa 1825 and purchased by Carson as a wedding gift for his third wife, Maria Josefa Jaramillo, a member of a prominent Taos family. The territorial style adobe building was to be their home for the next 25 years. Seven of their eight children were born and raised in the home, along with several Native American children who had been freed by the Carsons from captivity.
The Carsons moved to Fort Garland, Colorado, in 1866, leaving many of their possessions behind. After the death of Josefa on April 27, 1868, and Kit shortly thereafter on May 23, 1868, the home changed ownership six times before it was purchased in 1911 by the Grand Masonic Lodge of New Mexico to be maintained as a memorial to Freemason Kit Carson in perpetuity.
Admission is $7 per adult; $6 for seniors; $5 for teens and students; free to children under 12; $5 tour groups of 10 or more; free to Kit Carson Home and Museum members; free to Taos County residents every Sunday; free to members.
113 Kit Carson Road, (575) 758-4945, kitcarsonmuseum.org. Hours: Daily March through October, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
The Millicent Rogers Museum
Established as a memorial to Millicent Rogers whose inspiration, patronage and collections form the cores of its holdings.
Rogers (1902-1953) was the granddaughter of Henry Huttleston Rogers,one of the founders of the Standard Oil Company. At her homes in New York, Virginia, Italy and elsewhere, she entertained the great and splendid from American industrialists to European nobility. She was the fashionista of her day. In her later years, she visited and eventually settled in Taos.
Here, she became close friends with many of the founding members of the Taos artist’s colony. Her namesake museum houses 15 galleries featuring the heritage of the Southwest, including jewelry, paintings, and pottery — such as the family collection of heralded potter Maria Martinez.
The majority of the museum’s galleries, housing more than 6,000 objects, are representative of the diverse Indigenous and Hispanic cultures of the Southwest with particular strengths in the traditional arts of Northern New Mexico.
Admission is $10 per adult; $8 for seniors (60+); $6 for military (active or veteran); $6 for students (16-21 with ID); $2 per child (6-16); free admission for children under 6; free admission for Taos County residents; tour rates and discount cards for multiple visits are available.
1504 Millicent Rogers Road, (575) 758-2462, millicentrogers.org. Hours: Daily April through October, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The museum is closed July 4 and during the Feast of San Geronimo (Sept. 30).
— Compiled by Scott Gerdes