Home to four world-class museums, as well as the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens, Museum Hill is a must-experience for any visit to The City Different. Here is our Insider’s Guide to make the most of your visit to one of Santa Fe’s cultural hubs. Set aside a full day to take in all of the great exhibitions, each representing a different facet of Santa Fe’s cultural history. And plan to enjoy lunch at Weldon's Museum Hill Cafe, open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.
It's a short drive to Museum Hill from downtown Santa Fe! If you are without a vehicle, no worries—check with your hotel to find out if they offer a complimentary shuttle or call a Lyft or Uber. Should you have your own vehicle, free parking is available on-site.
The Hill itself is a public sculpture garden, with several of Santa Fe’s most recognizable pieces displayed prominently throughout. Save yourself some money by picking up a New Mexico CulturePass, good for admission into all of the state’s museums, however the Wheelwright Museum, the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, and Botanical Garden will each require additional admission fees. Most open at 10 a.m., and house their own shop for gifts and mementos.
MUSEUM OF SPANISH COLONIAL ART
The Museum of Spanish Colonial Art exhibits works focused on the Spanish Colonial period of New Mexico’s history. Visitors will find scores of bultos, retablos, paintings, and fiber arts on display; all housed in a striking example of the Spanish Colonial architecture for which Santa Fe is famous. Younger visitors to the museum love the “Costume Corner” where they can try on outfits traditional to the Spanish Colonial era. And in the Curtin-Paloheimo Gallery, the display of artwork by Youth Artists in Spanish Market continues include santos, tinwork, straw appliqué, colcha embroidery, precious metals, and pottery by youth artists, ranging in age from seven to eighteen years old.
WHEELWRIGHT MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN
As you may guess, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian spotlights both contemporary and traditional Native American art. The exhibitions are housed in an eight-sided building, a nod to the traditional Hogan homes used by the Diné (Navajo) people. One of the highlights of the museum is the Case Trading Post museum shop (featured above). Here, you will find one of Santa Fe’s most impressive collections of vintage jewelry and crafts by local Native American artists.
MUSEUM OF INDIAN ARTS & CULTURE
The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture is home to more than 70,000 artifacts of the Native Southwest, with a wide variety of paintings, sculptures, textiles, and more. As is common with most of the Museum Hill locations, free docent-led tours of the museum are available daily, however, please call ahead to confirm.
MUSEUM OF INTERNATIONAL FOLK ART
For a dose of color and a sense of cultures worldwide, look no further than the Museum of International Folk Art. This family-friendly collection showcases toys and textiles from more than 100 countries, representing the largest international folk art collection in the world. Be sure to build in plenty of time to peruse a full wing dedicated to miniature dioramas from the collection of architect and designer Alexander Girard.
SANTA FE BOTANICAL GARDEN
The Santa Fe Botanical Garden teems with natural flora and fauna native to the Northern New Mexico landscape. In addition to the xeric, orchard, and meadow gardens, visitors will also discover an art trail dotted with sculpted works of art. Several hands-on classes are offered throughout the year, and free guided tours are available as docents are available, however, call ahead to confirm.