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Museum Hill in Santa Fe features 4 separate museums, a restaurant and botanical garden in one convenient, peacefully situated location. Come here during your visit to see a variety of artistic, historical and natural exhibits without driving around town. This post tells you how to get to Museum Hill whether driving or using the city’s public transportation. This post highlights each museum, including hours, price of admission, featured exhibits and so on.

Where is Museum Hill in Santa Fe?

Museum Hill is 1.5 miles south of Santa Fe Plaza, situated in a rather peaceful residential neighborhood. As a result, this is a great place to spend the day and see plenty of exhibits. In fact, you can easily come here just to enjoy the peace of the surroundings. Having said that, we recommend you certainly check out at least one museum during your visit!

Driving Directions to Museum Hill in Santa Fe

From Loreto Chapel take Old Santa Fe Trail south for 1.5 miles to the intersection of Camino Lejo; turn right. Central parking for Museum Hill is .25 mi. on Camino Lejo to the left. In fact, even the drive to Museum Hill from the center of Santa Fe is a pleasant experience!

Museum Hill Parking

The Museum of International Folk Art, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture and Museum Hill Cafe share a parking lot. However, the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art and the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian each feature individual lots. Additionally, walking to all four museums is possible via short paths connecting the buildings.

Public Transportation to Museum Hill in Santa Fe

Santa Fe has rather good public bus service providing FREE transportation to Museum Hill. The Santa Fe Shuttle to Museum Hill picks up at the Capitol Lot on Paseo de Peralta and Old Santa Fe Trail, opposite the New Mexico Capitol Building. To clarify, this is a free service and operates 7 days a week from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm.

Santa Fe Trails is the city’s public bus line with a route to Museum Hill from downtown. Route M picks up at the Downtown Transit Center on Sheridan Avenue, one block west of Santa Fe Plaza. Each ride costs $1, so getting here is no problem if you miss the free shuttle.

Museum Hill Café

A very good restaurant awaits on-site to sustain you during a day of museum hopping. The Museum Hill Café serves lunch from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm Tuesday – Sunday. There is fusion cuisine going on at Museum Hill Café menu, like smoked duck flautas and salmon tostadas, for example.

Sandwiches, salads and soups are also available as well as wine, beer and cocktails. Sunday brunch at Museum Hill Café features a rather extensive selection of dishes plus Mimosas, Bloody Marys and Bellinis. Sunday is a popular museum day, so get here early for brunch.

Admission Information

For a comprehensive list of available discounts at each museum refer to “admissions” on their individual websites. Each museum offers a range of discounts, any of which may apply to you.

Drifter’s Warning: Free admission to these museums on the first Sunday of every month is only for New Mexico residents with ID, with the exception of the Wheelwright Museum, which is free to ALL on the first Sunday of every month.


Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian

Where: 704 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hours: Daily 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Telephone: (505) 982 4636 or 800 607 4636

Website: www.wheelwright.org

Admission: $8.00 Adult

Photography: Permitted without flash

This relatively small museum is the oldest independent non-profit museum in New Mexico, founded in 1937 by Mary Cabot Wheelwright with the support of Hastiin Klah (Navajo Medicine Man). Their vision was one of curating and documenting Navajo culture and religion through sandpaintings, weavings, artworks and recorded oral tradition.

After the repatriation of many articles to the Navajo Nation in the 1970’s, the museum shifted it’s focus to exhibiting historic and present-day works by Native American artists.

The museum prides itself on showcasing rotating solo exhibits of contemporary Native American artists. Our visit coincided with the display of artworks by Bob Haozous and Rose B. Simpson. Check out the integral video of each artist being interviewed for a somewhat personal take on their introspective works. These exhibits will be replaced in early October 2019.

Old Man Looking Backward: Bob Haozous

It definitely helps to watch the interview with Bob before exploring his art. His work depicts how for generations the creativity of Native Americans has been honed to cater to the white market.

“Dead Rabbit” – Bob Haozous

LIT: The Work of Rose B. Simpson

Think Tank girl meets Mad Max! This rather fascinating exhibit focuses on Rose’s interest in post apocalyptic theory. It also presents an autobiographical look at defining moments in her life, including motherhood.

“Directed (West)” – Rose B. Simpson
“Directed (North)” – Rose B. Simpson

Center for the Study of Southwestern Jewelry

The Wheelwright Museum is also home to the Jim and Lauris Phillips Center for the Study of Southwestern Jewelry. This dedicated space is divided into the permanent exhibit of the Martha Hopkins Struever Gallery and the Schultz Gallery, where rotating works are displayed.

Fine examples of Navajo and Pueblo silversmith’s talents are intermingled with delicate filigree and inlay work. Modern belts and bolo ties are displayed alongside spurs and turn of the century bridles. In addition, Thunderbird jewellery of the Santo Domingo Pueblo mingles with iconic turquoise inlaid jewellery of the Southwest.

Case Trading Post

Downstairs in the museum you will find the Case Trading Post. Built in 1975 to resemble a Navajo Reservation trading post, it sells exclusive, original works of art. This is not your typical museum shop selling kitsch trinkets; these are high quality collector’s pieces.


Museum of International Folk Art

Where: 706 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hours: 

  • May – Oct: Daily 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Nov. – Apr. Tue. – Sun. 10:00 am – 5:00 pm 

Telephone: (505) 476 1200

Website: www.internationalfolkart.org

Admission: $12.00 Adult (non-resident)

Photography: Permitted without flash

It is easy to see why this museum is continuously voted a top attraction in Santa Fe, and all of New Mexico. Give yourself time to peruse the massive collection of folk art curated from all over the world.

A Peruvian Village During Fiesta – Museum of International Folk Art

The highlight of the museum is the Girard Wing, housing roughly 10,000 pieces from the Alexander and Susan Girard collection. Amazingly, this is only representative of 10% of their total collection! Over their lives the couple amassed these treasures from travelling the world. Many of the displays here recreate scenes from everyday life in rather intricate detail, right down to facial features. In addition, other displays include puppets, masks, figurines, dolls, textiles, beadwork and toys.

Beadwork from the United States and Africa – Museum of International Folk Art

The museum also displays national costumes from around the world. Representations of cultural identity are present from the cradle to the grave, quite literally. From Native American baby cradleboards to French wire funerary wreaths, the International Museum of Folk Art has it all.

Wedding Ensembles, Gujarat State, India – Museum of International Folk Art

The Museum of International Folk Art comes with a strong Drifter’s Recommendation.


Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

Where: 710 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hours: 

  • May – Oct:  Daily 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Nov. – May: Tue. – Sun. 10:00 am – 5:00 pm 

Telephone: (505) 476 1269

Website: www.miaclab.org

Admission: $12.00 Adult (non-resident)

Photography: Not Permitted

The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture is the largest institution here and hosts permanent and rotating temporary exhibits. The official title of the museum is the “Museum of Indian Arts & Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology”. The Laboratory was founded and funded in 1927 by John D. Rockefeller to study the indigenous cultures of the Southwest. The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture opened in 1987 as the space to exhibit the Laboratory’s collections for the general public.

Apache Mountain Spirit Dancer, Craig Goseyun. Laboratory of Anthropology Building in the Background

Throughout the museum Native American cultures are represented through basketry, beadwork, textiles, jewellery and pottery, with each collection being characteristic of it’s tribal ancestry. The pottery and textile collections range from historic to contemporary.

If you are in need of a rest, next door to the museum you will find the “Arnold & Doris Roland Sculpture Garden”. Here you will find the ground breaking exhibit “Courage + Compassion: Native Women Sculpting Women”. These female figures were all sculpted by the leading American Indian Women sculptors of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Check out the museum’s upcoming events, you may be lucky enough to attend a unique experience presented by the museum.

Every third Wednesday of each month the lobby here plays host to “Let’s Take a Look”!  During this event curators are present to identify your mysterious heirlooms.


Museum of Spanish Colonial Art

Where: 750 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hours: 

  • May – Sept. Daily 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Sept. – May Tue. – Sun. 10:00 am – 5:00 pm 

Telephone: (505) 982 2226

Website: www.spanishcolonial.org

Admission: $10.00 Adult (non-resident)

Photography: Permitted without flash

Possibly the smallest of the four museums on Museum Hill, it does not take much time to explore all that is on offer. Even folk like us who read every word on every label managed to whip through here in about an hour. The permanent exhibits focusing on the actual Spanish Colonial period of New Mexico are rather small.

Trade and Trails Exhibit

The Catholic religion certainly played a prominent role in the colonisation of lands in the name of the Spanish crown. Exhibits include bultos, ex-votos, retablos, milagros, statues, crucifixes, missals and all manner of religious artefacts central to colonists.

Also on display are peinetas, fans, eyeglasses, tiles, jewellery, mantones de Manila and a variety of objects indicative of the importance of trade to the Spanish. For centuries the Spanish dominated trade routes linking their colonies such as the Manila Galleons and the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. Likewise, they traded with Native American communities.

The Delgado Home

The museum is also privy to the will and estate inventory of Captain Manuel Delgado (1739 – 1815). The life of this merchant trader gives insight into the trappings of a rather well-heeled colonial New Mexican family.

On display are imports representing the far reaches of Spain’s trade empire, including Chinese porcelains, Asian travel chests and a Spanish chocolate pot. Similarly you’ll find examples of pottery, earthenware and delicate tapestries.

La Casa Delgado (The Delgado Home)

Although this is the Spanish Museum of Colonial Art, much of the space within is devoted to contemporary rotating artist’s exhibitions.

GenNext: Future So Bright REBOOT

This current exhibition showcases young Hispanic artists whose avant-garde works focus on global issues and those much closer to home, and to their hearts. As a result, their works ignite a mixture of reactions and emotions from the audience – fascinating, shocking, sad and humourous. They blend political satire, social commentary, environmental awareness and socio-economic imbalance, presenting the viewer with a rather unapologetic, raw insight into their world.

Brandon Maldonado depicts the rather controversial topic of border control from both sides. Patrick McGrath Muñiz cleverly connects colonialism, consumerism and capitalism in his diptychs, triptychs and individual canvases. Thomas Vigil repurposes old metal signs to display his stenciled pieces, often depicting religious iconography.


In Conclusion

Above all, Museum Hill is a premier attraction in Santa Fe. In addition to art and artefacts, a great restaurant is on site here. Getting here via public transportation is certainly easy. Similarly, driving to Museum Hill is straightforward. The surroundings here make for a pleasant spot to be during your visit to Santa Fe.

In addition to Santa Fe, check out 20 more things to do in New Mexico. See more even during your visit, like our 4 unique hiking trails near Albuquerque, for instance. Finally, if you’re heading to Taos, check out our 3 scenic drives that await during your visit.


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24 Comments

  1. Such an interesting museum. I am fascinated with artworks and find it really amazing how artists create masterpieces out of their imagination. You can call me weird but I love the works of Rose Simpson.

  2. I love how this is a collection of four museums with a botanical garden and restaurant. Can defs see myself spending an afternoon here and would for sure love to check out the national costumes display as well as GenNext. I’m not really into contemporary art, but those Hispanic artists really know how to shine light to global issues through a creative medium!

  3. Wow, never even heard of this area and there seems to be a lot of things to see and learn about in the museums. Not sure if its my thing to spend all day in a museum but if I had a lot of time, I would like to check this out. Some of the stuff I can see in the photos are amazing and ancient. (My history in this area is not good as I am European and we dont really learn about this in school).

    • Danik,

      Seems you’d still love this area; their are plenty of chances to get out for a hike or a run, not just in Santa Fe but all of New Mexico!

      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  4. Wow, there are so many fascinating artifacts to peruse! I was particularly drawn to the GenNext exhibit. Those are some thought-provoking pieces that really made me stop and analyze all the facets. There’s a lot going on there!

  5. Wow, so many museums at a specific area and it would really interesting to visit Museum Hill in Santa Fe. Museum of Folk Art looks interesting to me and I loved to see Gujarat’s attire. I belong to Gujarat and never knew that its traditional dress is exhibited in the museum of USA. Good to know.

    • Yukti,

      As you see, you can spend several days here and there is something that’ll appeal to everyone. We hope you get to see these exhibits one day.

      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  6. Some of these antiques are incredible, I didn’t know so much history laid in Santa Fe! Thank you for sharing all of these details, surely adding to my list of US travels soon.

    • Yara,

      Santa Fe is loaded with history and colonial charm. This was all part of Mexico not too long ago (in the grand scheme of things) and to this day the region retains a unique amalgam of culture, tradition and history; get here at once!

      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  7. As I read it’s like similar to Spanish origins.. I can relate as a filipino. The arts are different compared in other States. We visited 10 States so far hope we can visit all the States within 5 years 🙂 I’ll see if we can include this one in our road trip for next year!

  8. Wow, so many interesting museums in one place!! I think it must take at least half a day to explore. I liked all the museums you have mentioned but one museum that I really liked is “Museum of Spanish Colonial Art”. So many interesting exhibition there especially the “GenNext: Future So Bright REBOOT”. I really loved the paintings from Hispanic artists; very interesting and beautiful paintings

    • Nitin,

      You could definitely spend the entire day here seeing all sorts of interesting exhibits! There is something for everyone, and even a restaurant if you get hungry!
      Thanks so much for the comment, Nitin.

      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  9. This is so helpful! The southwestern culture is so strong in NM. I love it. I’ll have to check this out next time I’m in Sante Fe!

  10. Wow, I never knew of all these incredible collections, it’s amazing that they are all so close together and so accessible. The mixture of history and cultures represented here is so extensive it must have been so interesting to see it all.

    • Nic,

      This part of the country was actually part of Mexico not all that long ago, so the culture IS quite unique here, no doubt. So many aspects of old Mexico are still very much alive in New Mexico.

      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  11. It’s wonderful to have so many great museums in one area. I’d love to visit the Museum of International Folk Art and especially see the national costumes. The Delgado Home at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art also looks really interesting. It’s fantastic to have such a great variety of artifacts all together.

  12. Ronda Wood

    Thanks ! Very interesting.

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