The Western New Mexico University Museum has the world’s most comprehensive permanent exhibition of prehistoric Mimbres Mogollon pottery and artifacts. Exhibits include separate displays of basketry, footwear, cordage, stone tools, and stone and shell jewelry.
The museum also has exhibits about the history of WNMU and the Silver City area, the Scott Nichols Buggy Collection, American Indian tourist items, and a collection of mining tools.
The museum is located in Fleming Hall on the WNMU campus. The building was built between 1916 and 1917 to house the gymnasium and a science hall for what was then the New Mexico Normal School. Fleming Hall later served as the University library before it became home for the museum in 1974.
Address: Western New Mexico University Museum, Fleming Hall, 1000 W. College Avenue, Silver City, NM 88062
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Also worth seeing while in the area:
The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, operated by the National Park Service, are what remains of a series of interlinked dwellings built in five cliff alcoves. The dwellings were built by the Mogollon peoples, probably around 1300.
Visiting the dwellings requires hiking a well-traveled, 1-mile trail loop with several foot bridges over a stream. The walk takes about an hour. The first half of the trail, which takes you to the dwellings, is up hill. Some of the trial is steep. After you visit the dwellings, the trail is all down hill.
There’s a small museum near the trailhead with displays about nature and wildlife. The visitor center, which is a few miles from the trailhead, also has a small museum that focuses on the dwellings. A looping video tells the story of the cliff dwellers.
Address: 44 New Mexico 15, Silver City, NM 88061
The cliff dwellings are in the Gila Wilderness within the Gila National Forest on NM 15. Although the distance from Silver City is 44 miles, the drive takes about 2 hours because of the winding mountain road. (An alternative is along NM 35 through the Mimbres Valley, which is 25 miles longer but less winding and easier to drive, so it takes about 2 hours, too.)
Hours: Cliff Dwellings: Daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Last visitors are allowed on the trail at 4 p.m., and must be off the trail by 5 p.m.)
Visitor center: Daily, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Admission: Fees are collected at a self-self station at the trailhead to the cliff dwellings, so bring exact change or a check. (You can pay by credit card at the visitor center.) Families, $10. Adults, $3. Children age 15 and younger, free.