When most people think of Ghost Ranch, they think of Georgia O’Keeffe. But the area also is notable for archaeology and paleontology, and Ghost Ranch has two museums devoted to those topics.
The Florence Hawley Ellis Museum of Anthropology is named for Dr. Florence Hawley Ellis, who worked for more than 20 years at the University of New Mexico and led anthropology courses and fieldwork in the Ghost Ranch area from 1970 through 1991. The museum highlights 12,000 years of habitation of the Gallina-Chama-Rio Grande drainage, as well as contemporary work by American Indian, Hispanic, and Anglo artists of the area. The museum also has an active exhibition schedule of contemporary artist’s work.
The Ruth Hall Museum of Paleontology was named after the Ruth Hall. She was the wife of Jim Hall, the first resident director of Ghost Ranch. The Ghost Ranch area had of interest to paleontologists since the 19th century, and the 1947 discovery of a massive graveyard of Coelophysis fossils put Ghost Ranch on the map. The Coelophysis is the state fossil of New Mexico, and research is still being conducted on the area’s fossils. The museum has exhibits of various dinosaurs found in the region, including a fossil that is being removed from rock for visitors to see.
Location: 1708 Highway 84, Abiquiu, New Mexico
Phone: 877-804-4678 or 505-685-1000
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Closed most days from Christmas Eve to New Years Day. Call to verify hours.
Admission: Adults: $4, Children: $2 (13 and under), Seniors: $3 (65 and older)
While at Ghost Ranch, you can hike, take a workshop, stay for the night, or stay for a retreat. All of the information about available activities other details are posted on the website.
The Aztec Museum and Pioneer Village was established in 1974 to preserve stories from Aztec, a town founded in 1887, and the surrounding area. The main museum once served as the Aztec City Hall and Fire Station. After you go downstairs in the main building, you will step out into the Pioneer Village – a collection of 12 buildings, some of which were moved to the site. The buildings include an old jail, a print shop, a church, a log cabin, a blacksmith’s shop, a bank and a post office. Continue reading
Aztec Ruins Monument contains the remains of prehistoric Anasazi structures and is the second most important area in the Chaco area of ancestral Pueblo culture occupied between 850 and 1250. The ruins were named when European settlers mistakenly attributed them to the Aztecs. The site received UNESCO World Heritage designation in 1987 as part of the Chaco Culture World Heritage Site. Continue reading
The San Juan County Archaeological Research Center and Library at Salmon Ruins is a operated by San Juan County and includes a museum, the research center and library, and the ruins of an pueblo village. The library has more than 17,000 books, periodicals, and technical reports on archaeology, anthropology, geology and regional history. While the library is open to the public for research purposes, check-out privileges are limited to members of the San Juan County Museum Association, the San Juan County Archaeological Association and the Totah Tracers. The Division of Conservation Archaeology (DCA) also has its offices at Salmon Ruins. The DCA provides a wide variety of services including archaeological site recording, cultural resource surveys, and historic structure preservation field and site surveying.
The Salmon Ruins Museum has a Heritage Park and trail where you can see 11th century Salmon Ruins and a Chacoan great house, replicas of a sweatlodge, Hogan, tipi and pithouse, and the park trail ends at the Salmon Family Homestead that has a carriage house, a bunk house and root cellar. There is a Trail Guide to aid you as you roam over the site.
Address: 6131 U S Highway 64, Bloomfield, NM 87413
Hours: May through October: Monday through Friday. 8 am to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday, 9 am to 5 pm. November through April: Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm, Saturday 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday, noon to 5 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Admission: Adults, $4. Seniors (60 and older), $3. Children ages 6 to 16, $1. Children 5 and under, free.
The site where Silver City is now situated was first used as an Apache campsite and later as a Spanish copper mining center. Silver City itself was founded about 1870 after the discovery of silver. The 1870s were tumultuous and the town was the site of the first crime committed by a local kid, known at the time as William Bonney, and more widely known as Billy the Kid. Silver City became a commercial center for local mining operations and also became an education center for the southwestern part of the state with the building of the New Mexico Normal School (now Western New Mexico University) in 1893.
The Silver City Museum has a permanent exhibition on Silver City’s history, including a display of an 1880s parlor and a reconstructed office from the nearby mining town of Tyrone. Other permanent displays tell about southwest New Mexico’s mining history and Silver City’s early mercantile commerce.
The museum hosts frequently changing exhibits as well as lectures and special events.
The museum’s collection includes some 20,000 objects relating to the peoples and history of southwest New Mexico. The museum also has a research library that is available to the public, along with a bookstore/gift shop.
The Silver City Museum opened in 1967. The museum is housed in the restored 1881 Mansard/Italianate H.B. Ailman house. The house was built for Harry Ailman, a prominent Silver City miner, merchant and banker. During the early 1920s, the city purchased the house for use as the town hall. In 1931, the town added a firehouse garage to the back of the building. The building was used as a fire station until about 1970.
Front door of Silver City Museum
Silver City Museum in spring
Address: 312 W. Broadway, Silver City, NM 88061
Phone: 575-538-5921, 1-877-777-7947
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Closed Mondays.
Admission: $3 suggested donation