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The 10 Best Museums in Santa Fe, New Mexico [2024]

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Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

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Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
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Table of Contents

  • The Best Museums in Santa Fe
  • How To Get Free or Reduced Admission to Santa Fe Museums
  • Final Thoughts

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Santa Fe is one of the country’s most artistic cities, so it’s no surprise that it has dozens of appealing galleries and exhibits. Whether you’re an art lover or a history buff, there’s a museum in Santa Fe worth adding to your travel bucket list. Here’s a list of the best.

The Best Museums in Santa Fe

1. Art Vault

Art Vault
Image Credit: Thoma Foundation

Santa Fe’s Art Vault is owned and operated by the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Foundation, which aims to showcase art from various mediums. It’s also the most recently opened museum by the foundation.

Rather than focus on growing a permanent collection, the space centers primarily around hosting temporary exhibitions. However, the museum always has art on display from its collection acquired by the foundation over the years.

Notably, the Art Vault doesn’t stick to any particular art style or period. Exhibitions have displayed sculptures, paintings, and even videos. Some popular past galleries hosted at the museum are “All Art Is Virtual,” “Networked Nature,” and “Saint Somebody: Technologies of the Divine.”

You can visit the exhibits independently. However, tours are also available upon request if you’d like a more in-depth experience and anticipate having many questions about the artists or art on display.

Admission is free for everyone. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest bus stop is Guadalupe at Paseo De Peralta OB.

  • Address: 540 S Guadalupe St., Santa Fe, NM 87501

2. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Georgia OKeeffe Museum
Image Credit: Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is dedicated to the artist Georgia O’Keeffe and centers specifically on her life and career. It’s divided into 2 main sections: the museum galleries and the research center.

The museum’s collection centers around American Modernism, O’Keeffe’s specialty. Some of the highlighted pieces housed in the museum are “Abiquiu Mesa I,” “Above the Clouds I,” and “Abstraction Seaweed and Water—Maine.”

During her life, O’Keeffe experimented with various art mediums. The space houses paintings, drawings, sculptures, and even photos. Many of the artist’s personal belongings are also displayed in the museum to help preserve her legacy.

In addition to the permanent collection, the space hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year, all of which delve deeper into O’Keeffe’s life and career as an artist. Some of these galleries even display pieces typically held in the archives.

Admission is free for members and children and $22 for all other visitors. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest bus stop is Sandoval at San Francisco OB.

  • Address: 217 Johnson St., Santa Fe, NM 87501

3. Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

Museum of Contemporary Native Arts
Image Credit: Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

IAIA’s Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) acts as both an art gallery and an educational center. Its main aim is to help visitors learn about Native American cultures, histories, and art.

Since opening in 1962, the museum has amassed a sizable collection of contemporary works of art and historical artifacts, many of which are on display in the facility’s exhibits.

Today, the museum has over 10,000 pieces. However, some are only available for online viewing, while others are often loaned to other facilities around the country.

The space represents a wide range of art mediums, from paintings to sculptures. Some highlights include “Bird Woman,” “Last Supper,” and “Honoring Invitation.” Temporary exhibitions, educational conferences, and seminars are also regularly hosted on the premises during the year to examine Native American art and culture in greater depth.

Admission is free for children under 16, MoCNA members, Native American and Indigenous peoples, and military personnel, $5 for in-state residents, seniors 62+, and students, and $10 for everyone else. The museum is open Wednesday to Saturday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The nearest bus stop is Alameda at Old Santa Fe Trail IB.

  • Address: 108 Cathedral Place, Santa Fe, NM 87501

4. Museum of International Folk Art

Museum of International Folk Art
Image Credit: Museum of International Folk Art

Run by the state of New Mexico, the Museum of International Folk Art aims to showcase cultures from around the world. Since first opening in the 1950s, the museum’s collection has grown to over 135,000 pieces, split between artifacts, crafts, and art.

This collection continues to grow today as new pieces are donated. Since the museum aims to highlight how cultures express themselves through art, it doesn’t showcase any famous artists.

In addition to the permanent collection, which is spread out across multiple wings, the space also hosts special exhibitions. These delve into more particular aspects of different cultures and more contemporary art projects to help promote diversity and multiculturalism.

Notably, the museum is the largest of its kind in the world. It is also considered one of the most comprehensive, representing customs from dozens of countries and cultures.

Admission is free for in-state residents on the first Sunday of the month, in-state seniors on Wednesdays, and children under 17 every day. Tickets are $7 for New Mexico adults and $12 for out-of-state residents. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest bus stop is Cam. Lejo at Museum of Int’l. Folk Art.

  • Address: On Museum Hill, 706 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87505

5. Museum of Spanish Colonial Art

Museum of Spanish Colonial Art
Image Credit: Spanish Colonial Arts Society

Though it’s a small facility, the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art houses several paintings, textiles, vases, and furniture from the Spanish colonial period.

Despite its small size, the space’s on-site collection still includes around 4,000 pieces. While Spanish colonial art is the largest portion of the collection, Peruvian colonial art is also housed and displayed. Technically, these pieces fall into 2 different collections, the official Museum Collection and the Beltrán Kropp Collection.

Some of the highlighted pieces in the museum are “Christ at the Whipping Post” and various household objects present in the permanent museum collection. Photographs, dishes, and religious objects comprise a large portion of the Beltrán-Kropp Peruvian wing.

In addition to the permanent historical works on display, the space regularly hosts contemporary temporary exhibitions by Spanish and Latin-American artists. Various seminars and conferences are also hosted on-site.

Admission is free for children under 18, military personnel, and educators and $10 for adults. The museum is open Wednesday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. by appointment and Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. in July and August. The nearest bus stop is Cam. Lejo at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art IB.

  • Address: 750 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87505

6. New Mexico Capitol Art Collection

New Mexico Capitol Art Collection
Image Credit: Alexf via Wikimedia Commons (license)

New Mexico Capitol Art Collection aims to showcase the art and culture of the state’s people, both in the present day and throughout its history.

First opened in 1991, the museum’s collection has grown into one of the most beloved cultural museums in the Southwest. In particular, the museum shows how art from New Mexican artists is connected to political and socio-economic climates and can be used as a lens to learn about the past.

Some of the highlighted pieces in the collection are “Copper Crystal,” “Quetzalcoatl y Las Hormigas Maestras,” and “Ofrenda.”

Temporary exhibitions are also frequently shown at the museum to showcase the works of specific artists, styles, or periods. Additionally, educational events are hosted for guests of all ages, though these events are often fundraisers and require a ticket or reservation. Tours can be arranged, but the museum can be visited independently.

Admission is free for all visitors. The museum is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. and Saturday after Memorial Day and before Labor Day. The nearest bus stop is Don Gaspar at Paseo de Peralta.

  • Address: 415 Don Gaspar Ave., Santa Fe, NM 87501

7. New Mexico History Museum

New Mexico History Museum
Image Credit: New Mexico History Museum

Since its opening in 2009, the New Mexico History Museum has been a pivotal facility in preserving the state’s history. In its current location, the museum is spread across 4 different floors, each serving as its own wing.

The space covers 3 main topics: America’s westward expansion, Spain’s colonization of New Mexico, and the histories of the indigenous tribes that have inhabited the territory throughout history.

These exhibits include art and artifacts, and the collection comprises about 20,000 pieces. A few highlights are the “Ben Wittick Photographic Collection,” the “U.S.S. New Mexico Collection,” and the very first books printed by the priest Padre Martinez. 

Temporary exhibitions are also frequently rotated through the museum, showcasing archived pieces as well as art and artifacts on loan from other collections. This museum also hosts tours, academic programs, and artisanal workshops.

Admission is $7 for in-state residents and $12 for out-of-state visitors. There are also various free admission options for eligible visitors. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and open until 7 p.m. on the first Friday of the month. The nearest bus stop is Downtown Transit Center.

  • Address: 113 Lincoln Ave., Santa Fe, NM 87501

8. New Mexico Museum of Art

New Mexico Museum of Art on the Plaza
Image Credit: New Mexico Museum of Art

Once known as the Museum of Fine Arts, the New Mexico Museum of Art houses over 20,000 works of art. Rather than focus on any particular medium or art style, the space’s collection includes items ranging from paintings to mixed media.

Since the museum began its collection in 1917, it has collected pieces from important in-state and Western artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams, and Maria Martinez. Some of the collection’s highlighted pieces include “View of Santa Fe Plaza in the 1850s,” “Taos Pueblo-Moonlight,” and “My Children.”

Temporary exhibitions, which often feature the work of specific historical and contemporary artists, are also frequently hosted on the premises. Additionally, the space hosts an artist-in-residence project to highlight up-and-coming creators.

Admission is free for children under 16, in-state foster parents and children, school groups, members, in-state seniors on Wednesdays, and in-state residents on the first Sunday of the month. Tickets are $7 for New Mexico residents and $12 for everyone else. All fees are waived in the evenings of the first Friday of the month.

The museum is open Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The nearest bus stop is Downtown Transit Center.

  • Address: 107 W Palace Ave., Santa Fe, NM 87501
Prescott Gallery Sculpture Garden
Image Credit: Prescott Studio

Santa Fe’s Prescott Gallery & Sculpture Garden is one of the city’s most unique art facilities. Spread out over an acre of land, this indoor and outdoor museum is home to dozens of steel sculptures, the vast majority of which depict members of the animal kingdom.

Some of the museum’s statues even have kinetic elements, making the animals seem alive. Some favorites are the flamingo, giraffe, and lion sculptures.

Most of the larger sculptures are outside, but the museum also has an indoor section as well with smaller designs, such as “By a Nose,” “Three Jungle Runners,” and “Hole in One.” These indoor pieces are also available for purchase.

Since the museum’s founder, Fredrick Prescott, is an active artist, new pieces are routinely added to the space to replace sold sculptures or renew the exhibit. So, visiting multiple times can offer different experiences.

Admission is free for all visitors. The museum is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The nearest bus stop is Agua Fria at Siler Park Lane OB.

  • Address: 1127 Siler Park Lane, Santa Fe, NM 87507

10. Santa Fe Children’s Museum

Santa Fe Childrens Museum
Image Credit: Santa Fe Children’s Museum

Santa Fe’s Children’s Museum is a favorite spot for local and out-of-town families with small kids. The facility aims to promote creativity, learning, and imagination with its hands-on displays and on-site classes.

Most of the museum’s exhibits are geared toward children between the ages of 3 and 10, but other family members can still have fun exploring the different exhibitions.

Currently, the museum has 8 exhibit wings open, which feature spaces like a lookout tower, a child-sized supermarket, a fairy village, and microscopes. While most of these exhibits are indoors, there are also outdoor areas, though these spaces may be closed if there’s bad weather.

Numerous events and programs are also presented during the year, including animal meet and greets and classes about gardening. The museum can even be rented as an event venue for birthday parties and other children’s events.

Admission is free for children under 1, $7 for in-state children, $9 for out-of-state children, $10 for in-state adults, and $12 for everyone else. Fees are waived for guests on Thursday evenings. The museum is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest bus stop is Don Gaspar at Barcelona.

  • Address: 1050 Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87505

“Visit the Santa Fe Children’s Museum for a fun-filled family outing! Our hands-on exhibits cater to all ages, from feeding Cornelius the Cornsnake to playing with our Rubik’s Cube exhibit and bubble table. Don’t miss out on the excitement!”

Hannah Hausman, executive director, Santa Fe Children’s Museum

How To Get Free or Reduced Admission to Santa Fe Museums

We’ve indicated with each museum whether or not children, students, or seniors receive free or reduced admission. Several other programs offer similar concessions.

The Museums for All program offers free or reduced admission to museums through the U.S. for those receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits). Participating attractions in the greater Santa Fe area are the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, and the Santa Fe Children’s Museum.

Bank of America’s Museums on Us program offers cardholders free general admission to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum on the first full weekend of every month.

Participation is subject to change; please verify participating museums and entry conditions before your visit.

Final Thoughts

Santa Fe is one of New Mexico’s most vibrant and artistic cities. From fine arts to history, there’s no shortage of exhibits to see and experience while in this corner of the state. With any luck, this list can help you figure out which of Santa Fe’s museums you should add to your travel bucket list.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Santa Fe’s museums good?

Santa Fe earned a reputation as a New Mexico art hub. Its city limits have numerous museums covering topics from fine art to local and state history. There’s virtually a museum for everyone.

Does Santa Fe have famous museums?

The Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe has gained international notoriety for being the world’s largest exhibit of its kind. Other museums in the city are well-known in certain circles but haven’t quite gained widespread levels of fame yet.

Is Santa Fe a family-friendly city?

Santa Fe is an extremely family-friendly city. Its many activities and attractions, like hiking and camping, are suitable for people of all ages. Many different museums are enjoyable for people visiting with adults or children.

How many museums are on Museum Hill, Santa Fe?

There are 4 museums located on Santa Fe’s Museum Hill. The Hill also houses the city’s botanical garden, which acts as a sort of outdoor living museum in its own right. Of course, there are also museums found throughout the rest of Santa Fe.

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About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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