Past as pro­logue

Pasatiempo - - PASA REVIEWS -

The Halpin Build­ing, at the in­ter­sec­tion of Mon­tezuma Av­enue and Guadalupe Street, has been put to some good uses over the years. The for­mer home of the state ar­chives housed mu­seum ar­ti­facts while the New Mex­ico History Mu­seum was be­ing con­structed and served as a tem­po­rary lo­ca­tion for ar­chae­o­log­i­cal col­lec­tions un­til the Cen­ter for New Mex­ico Ar­chae­ol­ogy opened in 2012. Now the build­ing, which fea­tures a quote from Win­ston Churchill on its crum­bling north-side wall, is gear­ing up for per­ma­nent use as a con­tem­po­rary art mu­seum — a sec­ond, satel­lite lo­ca­tion for the New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art. The project is part of the mu­seum’s Cen­ten­nial Cam­paign, a three-year drive that launches early in 2016 and aims to raise $10 mil­lion.

The ex­ist­ing mu­seum on Palace Av­enue, which cel­e­brates its 100th birth­day in 2017, was founded as a con­tem­po­rary art mu­seum, al­though it now has a more his­tor­i­cal fo­cus on 20th-cen­tury art. “To build a con­tem­po­rary art mu­seum in Santa Fe in 1917 was a really bold move,” mu­seum di­rec­tor Mary Ker­shaw told

Pasatiempo. “Robert Henri was this ma­jor Amer­i­can artist from the East Coast, and he came out here to take his avant-garde ideas and put them into prac­tice,” she said. “He found a fer­tile ground with Edgar Lee Hewett and with the artists liv­ing here.” Henri (18651929) was an in­flu­en­tial painter. He sug­gested that the mu­seum, es­tab­lished by ar­chae­ol­o­gist Hewett (18651946) as an art gallery for the newly formed Mu­seum of New Mex­ico, cre­ate an open-door pol­icy for con­tem­po­rary artists who could sim­ply add their name to an ex­hibit ros­ter and show their work. “One hun­dred years later, where are we?” Ker­shaw said. “In­stead of be­ing this big, fan­tas­tic art mu­seum, we’re now the tini­est state mu­seum space in Santa Fe.”

The plan, made in con­sul­ta­tion with Toron­to­based Lord Cul­tural Re­sources, is to es­tab­lish one mu­seum at two lo­ca­tions, with the orig­i­nal build­ing ex­hibit­ing the his­tor­i­cal col­lec­tions. The Cen­ten­nial Cam­paign seeks $8.5 mil­lion to ren­o­vate the Halpin Build­ing by in­stalling a cli­mate-con­trol sys­tem and making struc­tural up­grades. The fund­ing would cre­ate an ed­u­ca­tion suite with class­rooms, hands-on art-making stu­dios for stu­dents, an artist-in-res­i­dence stu­dio, a kitchen and café, a new load­ing dock, a land­scaped ex­te­rior pub­lic area, a new el­e­va­tor, a col­lec­tion stor­age area, and ex­hibit spa­ces. The re­pur­posed Halpin would add 8,000 square feet of ex­hibit space to the mu­seum and 33,950 square feet of new space over­all — much of it ded­i­cated to the other pro­posed func­tions — to the ex­ist­ing mu­seum’s 55,125 square feet.

An ad­di­tional $500,000 will be used for a bridge fund. “When you’re en­gaged in a cap­i­tal cam­paign, it re­duces an­nual sup­port, be­cause you’re fo­cused on those ma­jor gifts,” said Jamie Cle­ments, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Mu­seum of New Mex­ico Foun­da­tion. “So a por­tion of that money will go into a bridge fund so we can con­tinue to fund ex­hi­bi­tions and pro­gram­ming for the mu­seum dur­ing the cam­paign.”

The fi­nal mil­lion of the $10 mil­lion is for the Shon­nard House property; sculp­tor Eu­ge­nie Shon­nard (1886-1978) be­queathed her for­mer res­i­dence to the foun­da­tion, which now leases the old Hewett House on Lin­coln Av­enue from the state but wants to move all of its staff and de­part­ments to a cen­tral lo­ca­tion. “We’ve al­ready moved our shops and li­cens­ing staff over to the Shon­nard,” Cle­ments said. “It’s a lit­tle over an acre of property. There’s a main house and a stu­dio, and we need to add a third struc­ture so that the foun­da­tion staff here at the Hewett House can va­cate and move over there.”

In ad­di­tion to the Cen­ten­nial Cam­paign, the mu­seum will ask the state to pay for a down­town cam­pus ex­pan­sion that has been con­sid­ered at least twice be­fore un­der pre­vi­ous direc­tors. Af­ter the foun­da­tion staff va­cates the Hewett House, the mu­seum can in­cor­po­rate the Hewett into the down­town cam­pus for use as of­fice space and ed­u­ca­tional class­rooms, among other pur­poses. “The state has al­ready in­vested about $1.5 mil­lion in restor­ing the

New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art,” Cle­ments said. An ad­di­tional $7.7 mil­lion in leg­isla­tive funds will be sought over the next five years and would al­low the art mu­seum to do a com­plete over­haul of its old and in­ef­fi­cient HVAC sys­tem; open the cov­ered sky­lights in the gal­leries; strip and refin­ish the painted ce­ment floors and add more col­lec­tion stor­age room in the base­ment, where staff of­fices are lo­cated; im­prove the elec­tri­cal sys­tem; and add ameni­ties, such as a café. The lobby also needs new in­for­ma­tion kiosks and an ad­mis­sions desk, dig­i­tal in­for­ma­tion screens to re­place the cur­rent sig­nage, and bet­ter light­ing. “We will be making im­prove­ments with the state fund­ing as we go along,” Ker­shaw said. “The con­cept is really to re­store the orig­i­nal el­e­gance of the build­ing.”

Mean­while, the Halpin con­tin­ues to house some of the Palace of the Gov­er­nor’s col­lec­tions, and those will have to be moved else­where. “Col­lec­tion stor­age is a big is­sue for all four state mu­se­ums,” Cle­ments said. “For all in­tents and pur­poses, they’ve all run out of stor­age. There is a big so­lu­tion that would ad­dress all the mu­se­ums, which would be to have the state fund a stor­age fa­cil­ity at the Cen­ter for New Mex­ico Ar­chae­ol­ogy out at [N.M.] 599. That Bureau of Land Man­age­ment land will come into the state’s pos­ses­sion, I’m told, over the next couple of years. There’s one large stor­age fa­cil­ity out there. It was built to ac­com­mo­date an ex­pan­sion. The Depart­ment of Cul­tural Af­fairs es­ti­mates that it’s a $2 mil­lion project to ex­pand that fa­cil­ity to ac­com­mo­date all four mu­se­ums.” — M.A.

Palace of the Gov­er­nors Photo Ar­chives No.

Hewett House; top left, Halpin Build­ing; top right, Halpin floor plans for the New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art; op­po­site page, Mu­seum of Fine Arts (now the New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art) un­der con­struc­tion, circa 1917, 013009

Top left, sculp­tor Eu­ge­nie Shon­nard’s house on Paseo de Per­alta, 1973, photo Hope Cur­tis, Palace of the Gov­er­nors Photo Ar­chives No. 055140; mid­dle, Eu­ge­nie Shon­nard; bot­tom, de­tail of ex­posed adobe, Palace of the Gov­er­nors Top mid­dle and op­po­site page, ren­der­ings of SITE’s ex­te­rior and in­te­rior gallery

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