Museum Magic

Historical homes, exquisite fine art, regional jewelry and much more

By Jocelyne Kizziar & Photos by Sam Joseph 

This winter, step out of the cold and into the hearth of Taos Art and Culture. Several museums in town masterfully act as storytellers for one of the most culturally rich places in all of America and continue to shine a light on its future.

If you only have time to visit one museum during your visit to Taos, make it the Harwood Museum of Art. This gorgeous adobe was once the home of Burt and Lucy Harwood and has long been witness and patron to the art scene. In fact, it is considered the second-oldest art museum in the state and houses an impressive array of Spanish Colonial and Hispanic relics as well as works from the many waves of artists who have found their muse in the Taos Valley, beginning with the Taos Six. The Harwood will be wintering two exciting temporary collections that should not be missed. 

By Sam Joseph/Harwood Museum of Art.

To take a deeper dive into the lives and significance of two early Taos families, visit one or both homes under the Taos Historic Museums umbrella.

Directly next to the Harwood Museum on Ledoux Street, you’ll find the E.L Blumenschein Home & Museum, the former home of Ernest and Mary Blumenschein that is now a living museum and shrine to the artist couple’s legacy. If your curiosity has been piqued by the story of a fateful broken wagon wheel that prompted Blumenschein and his friend, Bert Phillips, to ditch their Mexican sketching trip and set down artistic roots in Taos, you’ll enjoy visiting how the artists lived and worked in the rambling adobe homes of the property.

Travel just a short distance to the outskirts of town to walk through the Spanish Colonial-style Hacienda de los Martinez. Savvy businessman, Severino Martinez, brought his family to the Taos area from Abiquiú, NM in the early 1800s. He built this fortress-like home for his family, which soon became an important center of commerce for traders traveling up and down the Chihuahua Trail. History romantics will have no trouble imagining Severino and his family, including son and well-known Taoseño Padre Martinez, walking the dirt and ox–blood floors and settling in for a night around the kitchen hearth behind the massive adobe walls.

Kit Carson is a controversial figure in the story of Taos, but you’ll find his name woven throughout the area due to his undeniable place in its history. If you want to learn why his legend looms over much of Northern New Mexico, visit his home turned Kit Carson House/Museum on… you guessed it, Kit Carson Road. 

By Sam Joseph/Kit Carson House/Museum

The thread of Carson family history weaves its way through to Bent Street and intertwines in a most violent way with the family of Governor Charles Bent. To fully realize the frightening experience that happened in 1847 when Bent’s life was ended, pay a small fee to visit the Governor Charles Bent House & Museum across from the John Dunn Shops and see how a few brave women cunningly and victoriously escaped the same fate.

By Sam Joseph/Governor Charles Bent House & Museum

For an exotic and glamorous foray into Taos history and to better understand its inhabitants love for working with the clay, stone and wood gathered from the land, visitors should seek to visit Taos Art Museum at Fechin House, home of Nicolai Fechin, and the Millicent Rogers Museum. 

By Sam Joseph/Taos Art Museum at Fechin House

Fechin, a Russian immigrant and important 20th century artist, built this Taos home for his family in the early 1900s. You’ll find his paintings throughout the house, but don’t overlook the walls and hand-carved wood adornments in the home that are from his hand as well. The Millicent Rogers Museum houses an impressive and priceless collection of Native American jewelry.

By Sam Joseph/Taos Art Museum at Fechin House