From Museums to Festivals to Performing Arts, Santa Fe Tradition Shines Through

By Michaela Jackson on September 14, 2012 at 3:58 am EST
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PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Young

In Santa Fe, there’s no easy answer for the question, “What is the local culture?”

A perfunctory glance at a tourism brochure or a summer events calendar reveals exhibitions, celebrations and performances born of more traditions than there are colors in a New Mexico sunset.

Southeast Santa Fe is home to the rich Museum District, where pieces of New Mexico’s heritage are preserved and displayed, safe from the corrosion of memory in their glass cases and elaborate exhibits.

The Museum of International Folk Art, which received the community’s vote as favorite museum, houses America’s largest collection of Spanish Colonial and Hispanic folk art. The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture tells the stories of the Pueblo, Navajo, Apache and other indigenous people of the Southwest through more than 50,000 handcrafted prehistoric, historic and contemporary baskets, piece of pottery, textiles, pieces of jewelry, items of clothing and artifacts. Other museums in Santa Fe include the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, the Georgia O’Keefe Museum and the Santa Fe Children’s Museum. The city is also home to more than 300 galleries.

Santa Fe’s festivals are equally diverse. The annual Traditional Spanish Market, the oldest and largest market in the country for Spanish Colonial artists, is held each July. August means The Indian Market, the country’s largest and most prestigious Native American Art Show, featuring more than 1,000 artists. In September, the city turns out to celebrate La Fiesta de Santa Fe, the oldest community celebration in the country, dating to 1712. Cultural religious festivals are celebrated around Good Friday and Christmas.

Santa Fe is also a vibrant center of performing arts. The Santa Fe Opera is world-renowned, and more than 20 other music groups, theater companies and dance troupes call the city home, including the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the María Benitez Teatro Flamenco dancers and musicians.

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