There is no shortage of passionate, colorful and influential characters who have made their mark on Taos. If you're an art and history buff, then be sure to explore the following gems that helped solidify Taos as an art colony and a major player in frontier trading.
The homes and museums
THE E.L. BLUMENSCHEIN HOME AND MUSEUM
222 Ledoux St.
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.
This Taos landmark is maintained as it was when artist Ernest L. Blumenschein – an original member of the Taos Society of Artists – and his family lived there. The birth of Taos as an art mecca began on Sept. 3, 1898, when roving artists Blumenschein and Bert Phillips were traveling to Mexico to paint. A broken wagon wheel on the mountain pass forced them into town. Falling in love with the scenery, they never completed the trip to Mexico and in 1915 co-founded the Taos Society of Artists.
The 1797 Blumenschein home built in the Pueblo Revival style is filled with a superb collection of the Blumenschein family's art, a representative sampling of works by other famous Taos artists, fine European and Spanish colonial-style antiques, as well as the family's lifetime of personal possessions.
The home beautifully illustrates the lifestyle of Taos artists in the first half of the 20th century.
Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $4 per child (5-15), free admission for children younger than 5, free admission for Taos County residents on Sundays; tour rates and discount cards for multiple visits are available.
THE COUSE-SHARP HISTORIC SITE
146 Kit Carson Road
Hours: Tours are made by appointment.
The site is the home of 20th-century artist Eanger Irving Couse and his family and studios of Couse and J.H. Sharp – founding members of the Taos Society of Artists who were instrumental in creating the cultural fabric of Taos as we know it today. Nothing is under glass. All remains as it was 100 years ago.
Due to environmental constraints, most of the Couse-Sharp Historic Site is closed to the public November through April. Full tours for the 2018 season resume May 1. For the first time, however, the restored J.H. Sharp Studio, which opened in June 2017, will be open on a limited basis during the winter season. Visitors can tour the permanent rotating exhibition "Joseph Henry Sharp Studio: The Life and Work of an American Legend" on Fridays by appointment between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., except for Nov. 24 and Dec. 22. To make a reservation, use the request form online at couse-sharp.org/tour or call.
D.H. LAWRENCE RANCH
San Cristobal Road off State Road 522 North (make a right turn after mile marker 10; signs mark the rest of the way), San Cristobal
Hours: Please call
Also known as Kiowa Ranch, this site is situated on 160 pristine acres on Lobo Mountain, about 20 miles north of Taos. Frieda, the wife of the famed author, entrusted the ranch in her will to the University of New Mexico for the purpose of creating a public memorial to her husband. The ranch features buildings once used as respites for other writers and artists, such as Georgia O'Keeffe. Still standing is the ponderosa pine tree O'Keeffe painted during her first visit to New Mexico in 1929 ("The Lawrence Tree"). The towering tree is in front of the main house. The ranch is also home to the D.H. Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The couple owned and lived at the ranch during their visits to Taos in the early 1920s.
Lawrence was a British novelist, playwright, essayist, literary critic and painter. Among his most famous works were "Women in Love" and "Lady Chatterley's Lover."
The ranch is on the National Register of Historic Places and the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties.
GOVERNOR BENT HOUSE AND MUSEUM
117 Bent St.
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
This is the home of the state’s first American governor – a trapper, trader and mountain man. Charles Bent was appointed governor of New Mexico in 1834 when it became American territory during the Mexican-American War. Outside the home in January 1847, he was scalped alive and then killed by an angry mob protesting the American rule. Josefa Carson (wife of Kit Carson) and her sister, who was Bent's wife, Ignacia, were both present in the Bent home when the then-governor was dragged out into the street and slain during the rebellion. Along with Ignacia's firstborn daughter, Rumalda, she and Josefa dug the famous hole in the Bent home as an escape route into the adjoining house that fateful night. The hole is still visible. The museum also features 19th-century artifacts of the area and a surprise oddity.
Admission is $3 for adults, 50 cents for children.
HACIENDA DE LOS MARTINEZ
708 Hacienda Way, off Ranchitos Road
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.
This thick-walled adobe fortress-like trading post with 21 rooms surrounding two interior courtyards is on the National Register of Historic Places and gives a glimpse of rugged frontier life. It was constructed in 1804 by Severino Martinez. He and his wife, Maria del Carmel Santistevan Martinez, raised six children here. Their eldest son was the famous Padre Antonio Martinez, who battled the French Bishop Lamy to preserve the Hispanic character of the Roman Catholic Church in the territory. His statue stands in Taos Plaza. The hacienda is one of the few Northern New Mexico-style, late Spanish colonial period "great houses" remaining in the American Southwest. Serving as an important trade center and gathering place, the hacienda was the final terminus for the Camino Real, which connected Northern New Mexico to Mexico City. It was also the headquarters for an extensive ranching and farming operation.
Every room displays period artifacts from rifles to beds to looms and kitchen utensils.
Admission is $8 for adults, $7 seniors, $4 per child (5-15), free admission for children younger than 5, free admission for Taos County residents on Sundays; tour rates and discount cards for multiple visits are available.
THE HARWOOD MUSEUM OF ART
238 Ledoux St.
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
The Harwood Museum of Art showcases a permanent collection of more than 4,700 works and an archive of 17,000 photographs from the 19th century onward. In the early part of the 20th century, many artists – such as Agnes Martin – were drawn to the Taos area to pursue a new, truly American art devoid of industrial influence, inspired instead by New Mexico's landscape and light and the traditional Native American and Hispanic cultures of the region. The Harwood Museum collection brings to the public a unique record of this artistic convergence from its beginnings to the present day. The embracing spirit of the Harwood was established by artists Burt and Elizabeth Harwood.
Winter exhibits include geological formations by photographer Meredith Garcia; “Mulier Fortis: Work by Women,” featuring pieces by women from The Harwood Museum collections; and the part-portraiture, part-collage paintings of Erin Currier. The museum also holds an open house during the annual Lighting of Ledoux on Dec. 2, 5-7 p.m.
The Taos Chamber Music Group performs special programs in the museum's Arthur Bell Auditorium through May. See the calendar listings for details or check online at harwoodmuseum.org.
Admission is $10 per adult, $8 for seniors, $8 per student, free admission to youth (18 and younger), free admission to University of New Mexico students and faculty, free admission to members of the Harwood Museum of Art Alliance, free admission to Taos County residents on Sundays.
KIT CARSON HOME AND MUSEUM
113 Kit Carson Road
Hours: Daily November through February, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Taos’ oldest museum is the home of Christopher "Kit" Carson, frontiersman, trapper, soldier and scout.
Admission is $7 per adult, $6 for seniors, $5 for teens and students, free to children younger than 12, $5 tour groups of 10 or more, free to Kit Carson Home and Museum members, free to Taos County residents every Sunday, free to active military personnel and free to Masonic members.
THE MILLICENT ROGERS MUSEUM
1504 Millicent Rogers Road
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, Nov. 1 through March 31, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day and Easter Sunday.
Now in its 60th year, this grand hacienda was established as a memorial to Millicent Rogers, whose inspiration, patronage and collections form the cores of its holdings. Rogers (1902-1953) was the granddaughter of Henry Huttleston Rogers, one of the founders of the Standard Oil Company. At her homes in New York, Virginia, Italy and elsewhere, she entertained the great and splendid from American industrialists to European nobility. She was the fashionista of her day. In her later years, she visited and eventually settled in Taos. Here, she became close friends with many of the founding members of the Taos artist colony. Her namesake museum houses 15 galleries featuring the heritage of the Southwest, including jewelry, paintings and pottery — such as the family collection of works by heralded San Ildefonso Pueblo potter Maria Martinez.
The majority of the museum’s galleries, housing more than 6,000 objects, are representative of the diverse indigenous and Hispanic cultures of the Southwest with particular strengths in the traditional arts of Northern New Mexico. The museum rotates its collections on a frequent basis throughout the galleries.
Exhibits and events this winter season include the annual Holiday Fiesta, Dec. 2, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; "Picturing Home, Plants and Animals of the Southwest" (through April 2018); "Corn, Sacred Giver of Life" (through Jan. 31, 2018); "Feast Days, A Cycle of Faith" (through Jan. 31, 2018); "La Familia” (including the Suazos, Barelas, Trujillos, Salazars and Graves), (through April 1, 2018);
“To Honor Millicent" (through April 1, 2018); the annual “Miniature Show,” (Feb. 9-March 4, 2018);
Taos Pueblo Winter Showcase (March 9-11, 2018); and the Taos Arts Club/Teen Art Studio drawings (April 11-May 6, 2018).
The hacienda was the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Claude Anderson, friends of Rogers. It was donated by the family and has been added onto over the years.
Admission is $10 per adult, $8 for seniors (60+), $6 for military (active or veteran), $6 for students (16-21 with ID), $2 per child (6-16), free admission for children younger than 6, free admission for Taos County residents; tour rates and discount cards for multiple visits are available.
TAOS ART MUSEUM AT FECHIN HOUSE
227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte
Hours: Nov. 1 through April 30, Tuesday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
(575) 758-2690, ext. 101 for front desk or ext. 206 for Museum Store
This is the former home and studio of artist Nicolai Ivanovich Fechin, showcasing a blend of early 20th-century Russian and Southwestern artworks. Fechin built the home for his family between 1927 and 1933. Fechin, born in Kazan, Russia, in 1881, carved and molded the adobe buildings into a fascinating, harmonic marriage of Russian, American Indian, art deco and Hispanic motifs. Today, it houses art by the Taos Society of Artists in a lovely garden setting within walking distance of the entire Taos historic district and offers content-rich programming for adults and children.
This winter's exhibitions include "The Art of Walt Gonske: A Retrospective." Enjoy a close look at the work of an artist whose art has embodied the Southwest for four decades. The exhibition will run through Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018.
Also on exhibit is “International Taos,” which portrays the international influences that remarkably found expression in Taos in the first half of the 20th century. Based on selections from the museum’s permanent collection, the exhibition demonstrates the fascination that the landscapes, people and cultures of Taos have held for artists from around the world. The exhibition will run from Oct. 20, 2017, through Feb. 4, 2018.
Ongoing programs this winter include “Learning the Collections,” a series of monthly gallery talks that engages participants in looking at artwork up close and from the deep perspectives of history and sharing their observations. “Meet the Artist” is a another monthly program in which an artist is asked to share and demonstrate their creative process and their work with visitors for one Saturday afternoon between noon-4 p.m. Call ahead or check the museum's website for scheduled days and times for the ongoing programs.
Admission is $10 per adult, $9 for seniors, $6 per student, $8 per person in groups of 10 or more, free admission to children younger than 12, free admission on Sundays for Taos County residents. Private tours are available by appointment. It is always free to visit the museum grounds and store.