CEN­TER SPECS

Pasatiempo - - ACTS RANDOM -

The Wheel­wright Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can In­dian is nearly 80 years old and never had space for a per­ma­nent ex­hibit, ac­cord­ing to direc­tor Jonathan Batkin. He broke ground in the au­tumn of 2013 for the Jim and Lau­ris Phillips Cen­ter for the Study of South­west­ern Jew­elry, a two-floor gallery wing now com­plete off the south­west (rear) cor­ner of the his­toric mu­seum.

Be­sides a per­ma­nent jew­elry ex­hi­bi­tion space, there is a class­room, break room, a pair of small gal­leries for ro­tat­ing ex­hi­bi­tions, and a cu­ra­to­rial work­room. Dur­ing the same con­struc­tion pe­riod, the main build­ing was ren­o­vated — in­clud­ing new stucco, new roof, in­creased in­su­la­tion, and up­grades to heat­ing, ven­ti­la­tion, air con­di­tion­ing, wiring, and tele­phone sys­tems — and the Case Trad­ing Post was ex­panded by 700 square feet. Out­side, the de­sign stu­dio Sur­round­ings led a remodel of the mu­seum en­try and the con­struc­tion of im­proved park­ing ar­eas.

First called the Mu­seum of Navajo Cer­e­mo­nial Art, the Wheel­wright evolved out of a 15-year col­lab­o­ra­tion in pre­serv­ing tra­di­tional Navajo rit­ual be­tween wealthy Bos­to­nian Mary Cabot Wheel­wright and Navajo medicine man Hos­teen Klah. The mu­seum, which is a slightly stretched oc­tagon, was de­signed by Wil­liam Pen­hal­low Hen­der­son.

Jeff Seres of Stu­dio South­west Ar­chi­tects — who did the new ad­di­tion as well as a new li­brary and cu­ra­to­rial cen­ter 15 years ago — said the mu­seum “is stylis­ti­cally ab­stracted Pue­blo Re­vival from a Navajo ho­gan, but in my opin­ion it’s an in­cred­i­bly mod­ern, In­ter­na­tional Style build­ing for 1937.”

Rugged pen­i­ten­tiary block was used to con­struct the orig­i­nal mu­seum. The new ad­di­tion is con­crete block and steel; the use of dou­ble-T con­crete joists in the sec­ond-floor roof re­sulted in a column­less main ex­hi­bi­tion space.

On May 15, the project was hon­ored with the Santa Fe His­toric Preser­va­tion Di­vi­sion’s 2015 Cul­tural Preser­va­tion Award.

— Paul Wei­de­man

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