Fading Memories: Echoes of the Civil War

On display through Feb 26, 2016

Civil War battles raged across America’s northern and southern states as Texas Confederates launched a plot: Head north and west through the New Mexico Territory with hopes of seizing California’s goldfields and sea ports. In 1862, battles erupted in Mesilla, Valverde, and Glorieta. Confederate forces briefly occupied the Palace of the Governors. Despite such victories, breaks in supply chains forced the Texans to retreat.

While the battles of Shiloh, Manassas and Gettysburg roiled the nation, New Mexico’s role in the Civil War faded—like the photographs of soldiers and loved ones held for remembrance as a nation faltered and the dead were buried. What was left behind—cased-image portraits of wartime soldiers and their families; a tattered flag; post-war lithographs—failed to definitively answer our nation’s questions, leaving mysteries, unknown faces and untold stories.

In the History Museum’s Mezzanine Gallery, May 1 through Feb. 26, 2016, three curators join forces in Fading Memories: Echoes of the Civil War. Photo Curator Daniel Kosharek, 19th- and 20th-Century Southwest Collections Curator Meredith Davidson, and Palace Press Curator Thomas Leech approach the subject from different angles and invite visitors to consider the possible meanings behind the fragments of memories on exhibit and how a long-gone war still defines us as Americans.

The exhibition includes rare photographs, a U.S. flag that saw action in the Battle of Glorieta Pass, lithographs that demonstrate the nation’s changing attitudes toward the war, along with diaries, a cross, even locks of hair that were carried by soldiers for remembrance. Presented in a manner that encourages contemplation, the exhibit grounds the war in the faces of the people who fought and of those who waited for them to return. Complementary programming will dig deeper into New Mexico’s role through lectures and special presentations. We’ll further inspire visitors to learn more through partnerships with state and national historic sites, other museums, and the Santa Fe Opera, which offers the world premiere of Cold Mountain in August 2015.

Some of the museum’s special events are still under development, and the opera will offer its own set of book clubs, lectures and performances. Here are some reasons to set aside dates in your upcoming schedule:

Friday, May 1, 2015, 5–7 pm: Exhibition opening, Free First Friday Evening

The New Mexico Territorial Brass Band plays period pieces, and Madeleine Quillen, president of the New Mexico Commemorative Civil War Congress, shares stories about the roles of women in the Civil War. It’s a mini-preview of El Rancho de las Golondrinas’ annual Civil War weekend, May 2–3. Refreshments provided by the Women’s Board of the Museum of New Mexico. Free admission 5–8 pm.

Friday, May 8, 2015, 6 pm: Revisiting The Civil War

Lensic Performing Arts Center

Free; suggested donation $10

Film editor and post-production supervisor Paul Barnes shows clips from Ken Burns’ landmark 1989 series and talks about recent efforts to re-master it for contemporary audiences.

Friday June 5, 2015, 9:30 am–4 pm: Glorieta Battle and Beyond: The Civil War in the West

A Palace Guard members-only event

Journey to the battle site at Pecos National Historic Park for a members-only guided tour. After a picnic lunch, tour Casa Escuela Museum, a private museum with historic firearms and military ephemera. $30 for members of the Palace Guard. Not a member? Join: http://www.museumfoundation.org/palace-guard

Sunday June 7, 2015, 2 pm: “The Civil War Remembered: Slavery and Territory of New Mexico”

Free with admission, NM residents free on Sundays

NMSU History Professor Dwight Pitcaithley discusses how the New Mexico Slave Code permitted African-American slaves and left New Mexico in the crosshairs of congressional debates and secession discussions.

Sunday July 26, 2015, 4 pm: Live performance of works by the composer of Cold Mountain

History Museum auditorium. Tickets, $15 in advance (call 505-986-5900 or 800-280-4654), $20 at the door.

Hear "Echoes of Cold Mountain," works by Jennifer Higdon, composer of the operatic version of Charles Frazier’s novel, performed by the Chatter chamber music group of Albuquerque, along with members of the Santa Fe Opera orchestra.

Friday July 31–Sunday Aug. 2, 2015: Santa Fe Opera Civil War Symposium

History Museum auditorium. Tickets $85 (at www.santafeopera.org).

Deepen your understanding with presentations from authors and scholars, including Harold Holzer, Hampton Sides, Kirk Ellis and Paul Hutton, along with "We Bring the Jubilee: A Concert of Civil War Songs and Stories," by Rex Rideout and Mark Gardner. For the full schedule, click here.

Tuesday Aug. 4, 2015, 2 pm: “The Civil War in the State Archives”

New Mexico State Records Center and Archives. A Palace Guard and Los Compadres members-only event.

State Historian Rick Hendricks leads a backstage tour of Civil War documents and ephemera, including muster rolls and personal correspondence. Free to members of the Palace Guard and Los Compadres. Not a member? Click here to join.

Thursday Sept. 10, 2015, 2 pm: “How Lithography Shaped Our Memory of the Civil War”

Landfall Press. A Palace Guard and Los Compadres members-only event.

Curator and Palace Press Director Tom Leech leads a visit to Landfall’s Marinoni Voirin printing press (ca.1860). Master lithographers Jack Lemon and Steve Campbell will produce prints from a litho stone bearing a historic image of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Free to members of the Palace Guard and Los Compadres. Not a member? Click here to join.

Sunday Sept. 20, 2015, 2 pm:Empire and Liberty: The Civil War in the West”

History Museum auditorium. Free with admission. NM residents free on Sundays.

Author and historian Virginia Scharff leads a panel discussion featuring Carolyn Brucken, curator at the Autry Museum, Durwood Ball, editor of the New Mexico Historical Review, and Jennifer Denetdale, a professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico

Sunday Oct. 4, 2015, 2 pm:Weapons in the Civil War”

History Museum auditorium. Free with admission. NM residents free on Sundays.

Historian John McCarthy, former deputy director of the museum, shows and discusses the then-new technologies and uses of weapons in the Civil War, from cannons and guns to swords and sabers.                    

Sunday Nov. 8, 2015, 2 pm: Death in the Civil War screening

History Museum auditorium. Free with admission. NM residents free on Sundays.

See the PBS documentary about how both sides dealt with large-scale deaths and the need to bring dignity to them.

Sunday Jan. 17, 2016, 2 pm:Uncovered: The Discovery of a Confederate Mass Grave at Glorieta”

History Museum auditorium. Free with admission. NM residents free on Sundays.

Archaeologist Matthew Barbour and Pecos resident Kip Siler talk about the 1987 discovery of a mass grave and what excavations revealed about the Civil War battle that played out there.


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