After reading the assigned reading and videos for Mod 4 governance I saw that we need to investigate a museum to look at one for discussion.  So I have chosen one down the road in Santa Fe in the old palace of the governors. I went there last year to see what was displayed.  Looking at the site in the about link there are the main things we were looking for to cover this topic of governance. I am not in the habit of looking at these basic underlying principles before or after I visit them, but this class has made me aware of this topic which I paid little notice of. This museum features much of the history of settlement of New Mexico from prehistoric indigenous occupation, Spanish and Mexican colonial times, American annexation and later statehood in 1910, along with civil war involvement, railroads, industry up to near modern times. One very obvious large back lit panel probably 5′ x 6′  past which you must go to get in to the American era display is of the classic painting of Manifest Destiny.  It is directly opposite a large padded bench at which you can park your tired butt if you have just come from the Spanish and Mexican colonial exhibits.   The displays are arranged in a circular clockwise historical pattern so that you start with the prehistoric parts and then wind through each period until you exit through the same entrance to other larger sections that are arts and sciences annexes.  I have not seen such a large blow up of this famous painting that lets you walk right up close to examine the details which are not readily apparent in text book images.  This powerful image of the American dream of marching west into new open lands for settlement by migrants from the east does not have a lot of text to force you into understanding the implications.  All you have to do is just look closely to see what direction the US expansion entailed with an unstoppable force born by destiny to tread upon the vista led by a gauzily clad blonde floating Anglo angel whose left bosom is strangely covered with no visible means of support while carrying a ledger or bible tethered to her wrist.  Today not many words are needed to understand the underpinnings of this national direction of occupation.  If you viewed that painting over 100 years ago you would not need any words either to follow the lead into America’s god given mandate to go into the dark stormy future lying ahead with no need to look back like Lot’s daughter.




2 Thoughts to “Museum governance od 4 assignment”

  1. Angela Linn

    Thanks for finding the institutional documents for the NMHM – I’m curious, given the strong Indigenous voices in New Mexico and in particular Santa Fe, does the museum have any labeling on the blow-up of “American Progress” to contextualize it for modern visitors? They say in their vision statement that they want to be a place for “multifaceted views on history” but by using that painting without interpretation, we can see through their actions what their priorities are.

    1. Martin Gutoski

      The Santa Fe museum is indeed trying to be multicultural, but still has to acknowledge it was and is the capital of the old Spanish empire, Mexico when it obtained independence, and the territorial and state governors palace. The old part still allows native Americans to sell their wares, jewelry, textiles and pottery under the old covered portal entrance. I felt a bit uncomfortable walking past them like a gauntlet of vendors from the tourist railroad boom when the locals sold trinkets at the train stations owned and operated by the Harvey hotel chains under lease from the Denver & Rio Grande RR. That era was similar to Alaska tourist operations run by international outfits like Princess, Westours and Holland America.
      There was a big flap when a municipal tourist director from out of state tried to ban the traditional decorations on the out side of the facility for sacred holidays because it would damage the historical structure. It also involved removing a centuries old statue of the Virgin from a nearby church to parade through the streets on that patron saint’s day. That uninformed person soon left the job.

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