A Flight of Hand-Crafted Arrows
Santa Fe, NM, May 18, 2009 – It took more than a review of the facts for the New Mexico History Museum to tell the story of the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. It also took the patient efforts of volunteers who created an awe-inspiring exhibition within the Museum, opening May 24 at 113 Lincoln Avenue on the Santa Fe Plaza.
About 20 volunteers and staff from the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s Friends of Archaeology and the state’s Office of Archaeological Studies helped craft 300 replica arrows that dangle in a mass from the ceiling via nearly invisible fishing line.
Pointed toward a mock-up of a burned and crumbling building (in real life, the Palace of the Governors), the arrows symbolize the drama and tension that pierced the battle between Native Americans, Spanish soldiers and settlers during the Revolt. The reaction of visitors who enter the exhibit is near-universal: They tilt their heads back, look up and say, “Wow!”
“We want this Museum to expand people’s understanding of New Mexico history, but we also want to do so in a way that engages their emotions,” said Dr. Frances Levine, director of the New Mexico History Museum. “These volunteers understood that, and their commitment to step forward and contribute their talents makes this an exhibit people will talk about for years to come.”
The arrows were made in the styles and with the raw materials that were current during the 17th century. The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge allowed the collection of cane and willow shaft materials, and various turkey ranchers and hunters provided feathers for the fletchings. Most of the stone arrow points were crafted by Tommy Heflin, a skilled flintknapper from Portales, N.M., while others were donated by archaeologists throughout the state who make stone points in their spare time. Metal points were crafted by Gary Williams, a Corrales, N.M., blacksmith, and Dave Brewer, one of the Santa Fe volunteers.
In addition to the Friends of Archaeology, several artists and religious leaders from New Mexico’s 19 pueblos provided handmade arrows, further enhancing the exhibit’s powerful message and authentic materials.
“When we first heard about the vision of the exhibit designers, we knew that we wanted to be involved in some way” said Eric Blinman, director of the Office of Archaeological Studies. “First it was the challenge, excitement, and gratification of learning how to make high-quality arrows that would really fly. Then it was the challenge of designing and executing their flight within the museum display.”
The New Mexico History Museum gives visitors the chance to explore the rich history of the Southwest in comfort and style. Define your own place in history. Get into it! Join us at the New Mexico History Museum’s grand opening – and keep coming back for changing exhibits and special events.
New Mexico History Museum
For more information about the New Mexico History Museum, including a selection of user-ready high-resolution photographs, log onto http://media.museumofnewmexico.org/nmhm. More than 8,000 additional, high-resolution photographs illustrating the history of New Mexico are available by keyword search at www.palaceofthegovernors.org (click on “Photo Archives” then on “Digitized Collections”). Most requests for scans from this site can be delivered the same day, and usage is free for publicity purposes only.
The New Mexico Rail Runner will operate its Saturday schedule (http://www.nmrailrunner.com/schedule.asp) on May 24 and 25 to accommodate opening-weekend visitors. In addition, all four of the state’s Santa Fe-based museums will have free admission on both days: the Museum of Art (http://www.nmartmuseum.org/); the Museum of International Folk Art (http://www.internationalfolkart.org/); and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (http://www.indianartsandculture.org/).
Creating a Place for Our Past, by Dr. Frances Levine, El Palacio, Summer 2006