Ruth & I almost missed a star attraction in Old Town. The 5 Compass Albuquerque Museum, which is in the process of simplifying its name, closed for one day, our first in town, due to icy conditions. Luckily, we had enough time on our last day to see it. Now a huge facility, the Albuquerque Museum (AM) at 2000 Mountain Road has been around and growing since 1967. It has a large parking lot that’s free for visitors who provide their parking slot # when buying tickets. It has 7 galleries, only 2 of which are relatively permanent. The other 5 generally feature international or local exhibits of note.
Ruth and I focused on the 2 permanent galleries before sampling the temporary and found both of them sensational. “Common Ground: Art in New Mexico” was where we found the breathtaking painting by Peter Hurd called “A Shower in a Dry Year” shown in part above. Storms in The West are different. Entire systems full of lightning and curtains of rain can often be seen from a distance. Hurd dramatically captured this phenomenon. There was one Georgia O’Keeffe, New Mexico’s most famous, non-native artist, on display. Perhaps the Albuquerque Museum has others by her and sometimes changes what is seen in its permanent collection, which features lots of Native American art.
The other permanent area, “Only in Albuquerque”, is new, historical, and gave me an appreciation of this town that I hadn’t had before. Beginning with Coronado, it swept me through the 400 years of its existence without losing my attention or my interest. There was ongoing focus on Fred Harvey and his girls in the early development of Albuquerque. The Fred Harvey Indian Building, one exhibit noted, became this city’s 1st museum. Helen Horwitz was apparently interviewed in 2009 about the local Harvey operation and especially remembered its cherry pies. There was information about racing legend Bobby Unser, who grew up here. Neil Patrick Harris was born here. Musical instruments and home computers were among products manufactured locally. The world’s first personal computer trade show, the Altair Computer Convention, occurred here in 1976. John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, and 6 other astronauts were trained in Albuquerque. Historic Route 66 went directly through its downtown.
My favorite among the temporary exhibits was “Chasing the Cure to Albuquerque”. Most of this town’s current hospitals, it notes until it closes on May 30, 2016, began as treatment centers for tuberculosis patients.
It was too cold to enjoy AM’s impressive sculpture garden, but we plan to return with friends next summer and will see it then.