USS New Mexico sets sail to Los Lunas

The NMHM has facilitated the loan of a USS New Mexico model battleship to the Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts for their exhibition: New Mexico’s Navy, which will be on display June 26, 2021 through August 21, 2021.

The model of the USSNM being packed to travel to Los Lunas.

The exhibition highlights the fact that although New Mexico is landlocked, there are 95 U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine vessels that have been named after noteworthy people and geographic features in this desert state. John Taylor’s book, New Mexico’s Navy, details these ships, namesakes, images, and histories. Taylor has worked with the Los Lunas Museum of Heritage & Arts to honor these vessels and the men and women that called them home.

There is a video of a presentation by John Taylor about his book New Mexico’s Navy, on the Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts Facebook page:

A detail of the USSNM model.

From the Collection: Coffee Talk

NMHM/DCA 00194.45

Who could use an extra cup of coffee this morning?

Shapleigh Coffee Co. tin canister used in the Dietrich family in Santa Fe during the late 19th century. Established in 1796 in Boston, MA, the former Allen, Shapleigh, & Co. coffee manufacturer was well-known on the East Coast for their “mocha java” blend. While we’re not certain how this canister came to New Mexico – either via wagon train or on the rails – the Dietrichs may have used this canister to store other goods long after the Shapleigh coffee ran out.

This yellow, orange, and gray painted canister measures 19.75” high and 16.75” wide with a depth of 15.75.”

From the Collection: Fix a Flat

On blocks: Horse-drawn hearse used in the Santa Rita mining area of SW New Mexico, ca. 1910-1919. NMHM/DCA 003820.45

“Look Ma, no wheels!” Protection and conservation of objects are two of the most important duties of any museum, and the NMHM is no exception. Earlier this week we worked with Dept of Cultural Affairs’s Museum Resources Division staff Tim Jag, David Levine, and Angela Duckwall to remove the damaged wheels off of our early 20th century hearse. A couple of special, large sized wrenches and a few tugs later, all of the wheels were safely and carefully removed. The wheels will be sent out for conservation – new rubber! – so we can safely move the hearse in the future and ensure its public enjoyment for years to come.

Removing a wheel.
Detail of the dust cover on a wheel hub.
It’s always good to have options when it comes to tools.

Please look out for our wheel-less hearse as it remains on exhibit in our current show, Looking Back: Reflecting on Collections, on view in the Herzstein Gallery. Look out for a future post in the next couple of months when we reattach the newly-treated wheels. You can also check out the hearse with its wheels in place in the virtual version of Looking Back.

Conservator Angela Duckwall inspecting elements within a wheel hub.
Close up of the aged rubber on one of the wheels. In many cases, bindings were needed to keep the deteriorating rubber in place on the wheels.

For more information on the Looking Back exhibit which examines the nature of collections and collecting, check out this curator talk with Alicia Romero and Hannah Abelbeck.

From the Collection

NMHM/DCA 11731.45

A black, alpaca wool jacket with velvet and rick-rack trim around the neckline and along the shoulders, c. 1904-1913.
This object represents one type of merchandise sold in a general store on the plaza in Chimayo, NM that was owned by Victor Ortega and later his son, Ben. Victor Ortega was heavily involved in the community. He was also a notary public, a postmaster, participated in the 1st constitutional convention of NM and also acted as the director of the local school and served as a probate judge.

Read more about Victor Ortega in this Spring 2012 El Palacio article titled “Don Victor Ortega.
NMHM/DCA 11731.45

From the Collection:

NMHM/DCA 2016.045.001

Do any of you participate in sewing clubs or quilting bees?

This 1917-1918 undyed cotton muslin quilt was made by members of the Anniston So and Sew Club, as the center square reads. Constructed of 10” x 10” squares laid out in a diamond pattern, each square is embroidered with a club member’s name and date. Some squares have “Logan, NM” or “San Jon, NM” as well, noting the location of the So and Sew in Quay County. Both the seams where squares are joined and the squares themselves are embellished with multicolored embroidery. This piece is completely hand quilted and measures 71.5” x 85.5”.

NMHM/DCA 2016.045.001
NMHM/DCA 2016.045.001

From the Collection:

NMHM/DCA 2010.13.1

Infant’s sunsuit or daysuit. This is a one piece garment with short sleeves, mother of pearl buttons and a scalloped collar. The outfit was worn by the donor on his first birthday, July 20th,1940.
A sunsuit is an old-fashioned term for a child’s one-or-two piece suit of clothes usually consisting of shorts and sleeveless top that was worn in sunny weather but could also be used as a swimsuit. Sunsuits were usually clothing worn by toddler boys, as is the case with this outfit.
NMHM/DCA 2010.13.1

From The Collection:

Hewn wooden cross made for and used in the “Milagro Beanfield War” film (1988) directed by Robert Redford and shot in Truchas, NM. The inscription reads: “Miracle Valley Project, / Rest in Peace / El Brazo Onofre” and measures 35.5” high and 17.5” wide. Redford initially donated the piece to the Museum of International Folk Art before it was transferred to the History Museum.

NMHM/DCA 11460.45

From the Collection

The piece in its chair orientation. NMHM/DCA 974.45

A chair and step stool combination, c. 1870-1880. Most step stools, being utilitarian, are plain wood or metal, but this one is covered in beautiful needlepoint. Perhaps it was to prevent slipping? The item was said to have been brought to New Mexico over the Santa Fe Trail.
The twill tape ties on the legs in the first photograph indicate to Collections staff that the chair comes apart at that point and to be careful when lifting the object.

Here the piece is deployed as a step ladder. NMHM/DCA 974.45

From the Collection

Zozobra Armature (model-framework)
Will Shuster ca. 1935
Gift of the Santa Fe Kiwanis Club
NMHM/DCA 11476.45

Zozobra, a.k.a. Old Man Gloom, was first created by Santa Fe artist, Will Shuster, in 1924. The first public burning of Zozobra was held in a vacant lot behind the Santa Fe City Hall in Sept 3, 1926. Each year in early September, Old Man Gloom is burned to rid us of anguish, anxiety, and gloom, while commemorating the start of the Santa Fe Fiestas. Shuster’s creation first appeared in his backyard as a six-foot puppet. Over the years, Zozobra has grown to a monstrous fifty-foot high marionette.

Upon the reopening of the New Mexico History Museum, you can view the model of Zozobra on display in the exhibition “Looking Back.”

Zozobra, Santa Fe Fiesta, 1950
Photographer: Henry Dendahl
Palace of the Governors Photo Archives # 057747

Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, this year’s burning of Zozobra will be a no-crowd event held this evening at 8pm MDT. You can watch the burning on your television or go online at KOAT Channel 7, and at

Photo credit:
The “Gloomies” dance in front of Zozobra, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1981
Photo by Mark Lennihan
Palace of the Governors Photo Archives # HP.2014.14.1636

Recently, the Museum Foundation of New Mexico hosted a talk (below) by New Mexico Museum of Art curator Christian Waguespack on the origin of the Zozobra festivities and its link to similar observances in various communities and cultures.

From the Collection

NMHM/DCA 2825.45a-b

Swiss made, hunter case, key wind pocket watch, c. 1850-1890. Manufactured by Moulinie, Geneva, possibly Moulinie and Legrandroy. The pocket watch has an 18 K gold case with blue enameled front and back, and seed pearl decoration. Full jeweled works on the interior. The original owner of this pocket watch was a woman and so the watch has been identified as a woman’s watch, but for the most part pocket watches were not made specifically for men or for women. However, women usually gravitated toward the smaller sized pocket watches. This one is small at 1 ½” in diameter. This pocket watch can be seen on exhibit in Telling New Mexico.
NMHM/DCA 2825.45a-b

The pocketwatch with its case closed. NMHM/DCA 2825.45a-b