Space Museum at Dawn by Jim Harris
Officials with the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) announced that state museums and historic sites reopened Thursday, September 24.
Southern New Mexico’s DCA facilities include the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces, and Fort Selden Historic Site in Radium Springs.
Each facility will operate at 25% of normal occupancy, with modified hours.
“Each of the southern New Mexico DCA facilities offers visitors an opportunity to experience a unique piece of New Mexico culture,” officials shared. “Most permanent and temporary exhibits spaces are open to visitors.”
The New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, the cradle of America’s space program, will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Monday, closed on Tuesday.
Visitors are encouraged to check out the museum’s third floor, where the newly renovated gallery “Human Space Flight” transports visitors to the 1960s, when the excitement of the space-age swept across the United States. A special exhibit by NASA artist Chrystal Jackson gives a first-hand look at what it was like at Cape Canaveral during those early years.
Visitors can view authentic spacesuits, early astronaut food, and other spaceflight artifacts. And a new exhibit featuring artifacts from Russian (Soviet) and American early manned spaceflights will take center stage on this floor – including never before seen artifacts and spacesuits from NASA and several popular movies and television shows like “The Big Bang Theory,” “First Man,” and “Astronaut Farmer.”
Spread across 47 acres packed with real stories about real people, the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, closed on Sunday and Monday. “Home on the Range: From Ranches to Rockets” is the current featured exhibit at Farm & Ranch.
It stretches through two galleries and tells the story of the dramatic transformation of the Tularosa Basin during World War II and beyond. A new feature at Farm & Ranch is the display of the historic horse-drawn hearse that was likely used for famed western lawman Pat Garrett.
Visitors to the museum can also check out other exhibits, including “Agricultural Beginnings,” the “New Mexico Colonial Home,” “Wheels & Gears,” “Home Sweet Home,” “Grist for the Mill,” and “The Cowboy Way: Western Drawings by Robert ’Shoofly’ Shufelt.” And a new art exhibit, “Monumental Territory by Kayla Blundell,” will open soon.
More than 1,400 years of history awaits visitors at Fort Selden Historic Site. Located along the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, or the Royal Road to the Interior, Fort Selden’s heritage goes back as far as fifth century to the Native American farmers of the Mogollon, and forward to explorers of the New World in 1598 and its establishment as a fort in 1865. Walk the path of the El Camino Real and imagine, hundreds of years later, the African American Buffalo Soldiers who called the fort home.
The historic site will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, closed on Monday and Tuesday. The occupancy limit of 45 people allows visitors to safely tour the historic site’s adobe ruins and other relics from another time.
Additionally, from 10 a.m. to noon each Wednesday, most DCA facilities will provide special hours of operation for high-risk populations. This corresponds with DCA’s weekly free day for state residents 60 and older.
Officials add that state museums and historic sites have been closed to the public since March 16 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. During the reopening process, the DCA has taken the necessary steps to ensure a safe, healthy, and enjoyable experience for visitors when they return to these facilities, in accordance with the current Public Health Order issued by the New Mexico Department of Health.
Entry into facilities will be metered to ensure compliance with the occupancy limits. Based on both historic attendance data and ticketing limitations, facilities will not require timed entry or reservations.
The New Mexico CulturePass, which allows one visit to each state museum and historic site while active, will be extended by six months past the expiration date. Museum memberships purchased through both the International Space Hall of Fame Foundation and Friends of New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum will be extended by six months past their original expiration date.
Museum memberships purchased through the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, applicable to New Mexico Historic Sites, will be extended by one month past their original expiration date.