New Mexico Feature
What's New in New Mexico
Santa Fe celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2010, and Albuquerque enjoyed its tricentennial in 2006. The entire state gets into the action in 2012, when New Mexico ushers in 100 years of statehood—it had been a territory before that, dating to when the United States took possession following the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Many events, from museum exhibits to arts presentations, are being planned to take place throughout the year. You can learn more at www.nmcentennial.org.
History in a New Light
Santa Fe's venerable Palace of the Governors, the oldest public building in America, is the site of the state's newest major attraction, the New Mexico History Museum, which opened in 2009. The sleek facility lies adjacent to and behind the palace. Exhibits here tell the rich and complex story of the state's founding through an incredible collection of artifacts that, up to this point, only made brief appearances in temporary exhibits at the Palace of the Governors. The 20,000-square-foot facility uses interactive, state-of-the-art audio and visual technology to bring New Mexico's heritage to life—a refreshing contrast to the sometimes static methods many of the state's museums employ in their exhibits (in fairness, some of the museums occupy extremely old, historic buildings).
In Albuquerque, the former National Atomic Museum (formerly in Old Town) reopened as the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History in a dramatic new building complete with a 9-acre Heritage Park—it's on the city's east side, a short drive from Nob Hill. This insightful museum provides a compelling, surprisingly unvarnished look at the often-controversial legacy of America's nuclear science and atomic energy program, from the bombs dropped on Japan to nuclear-powered subs. You also view the 1942 Plymouth used to transport the plutonium core of the bomb tested by Las Alamos scientists at south-central New Mexico's Trinity Site.
Albuquerque's Hotel Renaissance
The Duke City's lodging landscape has been mostly dominated by predictable chains over the years, but three hip, elegant, and distinctive new properties have shaken things up considerably. Two of these hotels are historic and situated Downtown: the glamorous Andaluz is a LEED-certified, arty makeover of the historic La Posada with a swanky restaurant (Lucia), while the Hotel Parq Central, opened in late 2010 in Downtown's funky EDo section, is inside a completely reimagined 1920s hotel. The rooftop Apothecary bar is a sly nod to the building's medical legacy. A 10-minute drive south of the airport on the Isleta Pueblo, the Hard Rock Casino & Resort is an upscale, stylish addition to the growing selection of hotels that have opened on Indian pueblos around the state in recent years (Buffalo Thunder, Hyatt Regency Tamaya, Sandia, and Inn of the Mountain Gods are a few others).
New Trails to Santa Fe
Well, contrails anyway. After years of little or no commercial air service, Santa Fe Municipal Airport (SAF) has finally ushered in daily service from two of the nation's busiest airports, DFW in Dallas and LAX in Los Angeles, on American Eagle (the regional carrier of American Airlines). The service has been highly popular, making it not just easier to reach Santa Fe from many parts of the country, but also points north, such as Las Vegas and Taos, as Santa Fe's small, convenient airport is an hour closer to these areas than Albuquerque. The service comes on the heels of the expansion of New Mexico Railrunner Express rail service, from Albuquerque to Santa Fe's newly developed Railyard District. New businesses keep popping up here, including a massive branch of REI, a much-anticipated outpost of the wildly popular Flying Star restaurant-coffeehouse empire, and numerous galleries and boutiques. The district's fantastic farmers' market was named one of the nation's best by CNN in 2010.
SITE Santa Fe's always fascinating Biennial takes place during even-numbered years, and the next six-month-long exhibit will be held in the second half of 2012. Even if you visit in a non-Biennial year, you'll still see prominent shows at this cutting-edge facility throughout the year. At the Museum of International Folk Art, exhibits slated for 2009 include an examination of colorful shadow puppetry from Indonesia, an exploration of how ethnic minorities in southwestern China use textiles to tell stories and pass along cultural traditions, and a display of prominent New Mexican folk artists working in a variety of media, from wood carving to embroidery.
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