The beloved Harwood Museum of Art celebrates one century in Taos
By Dena Miller
The historic district of Taos is inarguably a step back in time: low-slung adobes, wooden walkways, and a pervading atmosphere — ghostly, some may say — of the many souls who wandered the dusty roads for centuries.
The Harwood Museum of Art stands sentinel in the midst of the district, itself boasting a rich history weaving cross-cultural threads into a fabric that represents Taos as both an art mecca and a unique national melting pot. This year, the venerable, internationally acclaimed institution is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a comprehensive calendar of special events whose theme is “Reflecting on our Legacy. Envisioning the Future.”
Whether you are a local supporter or a visitor who has yet to visit, you are guaranteed to be surprised and informed by all The Harwood has meant to the past of Taos, and how it examines its significance moving forward.
Never-before-seen exhibitions, extraordinary displays and a wealth of historical background will be available from June through January 2024, as the centennial takes over all nine galleries inside the museum.
“This is the first full iteration of The Harwood’s history,” enthused Executive Director Juniper Leherissey, further noting that, as the staff dug into preparations for the centennial, “we learned things of which we ourselves were unaware, so we’re very excited to share this with the public.”
Beginning with the land’s history — from Taos Pueblo to Spanish occupation and its purchase in 1916 by Burt and Lucy Harwood — exhibits will then trace through the myriad functions served by the museum on behalf of the community. For example, explore the recreation of the town’s first library, stocked with archival books; view works of art, including restored furniture and tinwork dating from the WPA-era Taos County Project and from the influential Summer Field School of Art; visit an exhibit dedicated to the “Tastemaker of Taos,” Mabel Dodge Luhan; and, for the first time, enjoy Native American artist Lynnette Haozous’ evocative commission for the centennial titled “Seeds of the Future.”
Of course, you will be treated to the crown jewels of The Harwood’s voluminous collection, supplemented by important loans for the occasion. “We have over 200 works of art on display,” noted Nichole Dial-Key, curator of collections and exhibitions. Beyond the world-acclaimed Agnes Martin Gallery, see the works of other artists associated with The Harwood such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Elaine de Kooning, Margaret Bourke-White, Paul Strand and others whose names are truly legend, she said.
And, in honoring The Harwood Foundation’s early grassroots tradition of exhibiting non-juried artwork, the museum will be inviting local artists to participate in a series of pop-up community shows, replete with entertainment and refreshments. Keep an eye on The Harwood’s website or, better yet, sign up for email notifications, so you are aware of rotating exhibits and happenings in addition to the aforementioned. Lectures, guided tours, oral history events and more are on the busy calendar, and you will not want to miss any of them, said Gwendolyn Fernandez, curator of education and public programs.
After one of your many visits, stop by the museum store and purchase a copy of the first hardcover publication issued by The Harwood. “100 Works for 100 Years” is 170 pages of breathtaking images and expert, engaging analyses, and is guaranteed to be a collector’s item.
As steeped in history as a 100th anniversary implies, Leherissey emphasized the centennial is not just a backwards look; indeed, the vision for The Harwood is focused upon the future of the museum as a steward for preserving priceless archives, then building a creative future. “We hope everyone will join us in celebrating who we were, and what we will be.” With the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and others, The Harwood Museum of Art centennial will be celebrated through Jan. 28, 2024.
The Harwood Museum of Art 238 Ledoux Street, Taos 575-758-9826 harwoodmuseum.org