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Arts Tours

With a 300-year history, a mix of three prominent cultures, and mountain and desert landscapes that thrill the creative spirit, Albuquerque is bursting at the seams with stunning contemporary art, traditional art, and New Mexican folk art at all price ranges. From galleries with only the best of Indian art in Old Town to visionary modern art, you’ll find the city’s galleries and museums inspiring, innovative and perhaps challenging. No wonder AmericanStyle magazine readers rated Albuquerque the #5 Big City Art Destination, right behind San Francisco. On these two tours, you'll see New Mexican folk art, paintings, photography, sculpture, ceramics and textiles unequalled in the Southwest, or the nation. Download Day Trip Map for Albuquerque

New Mexican Art Tour 1: Traditional Arts

5-10 hours

Old Town: Native American, Folk Art
(1-4 hours,

Snowfall on eucalyptus is by Mae Crauder-Davis, Sumner & Dene Gallery - New Mexican artWith almost two dozen art galleries, Old Town steps in as a convenient center for traditional, folk and contemporary art. If you want inexpensive jewelry or a souvenir, have fun shopping the sidewalk vendors and tourist stores. If you want heirloom-quality rugs, pottery, ceramics or jewelry with gem-quality turquoise, visit the galleries that specialize in fine pueblo and Southwestern art. Antique enthusiasts will find stores with Hispanic, American West and Spanish articles.

Starting at the Plaza, take your time browsing. Look at the shops in the side plazas and patios and don’t be bashful about asking questions about the Indian artists and authenticity. Two pots may look identical, but one is twice the price: The cheaper one is green ware or molded instead of traditionally made from hand-gathered clay and materials. The same with turquoise jewelry. Inexpensive pieces are made with factory-produced settings and stabilized and dyed turquoise instead of gem quality “natural” stones. Let your taste and credit limit decide which is for you.  Learn all about the varieties of turquoise and how to tell the difference at the Turquoise Museum located just west of the Old Town Plaza.

Old Town galleries carry a great variety of Zuni fetishes, Pueblo storytellers, the acclaimed Acoma pottery, Navajo rugs, Hopi kachinas, silver buckles and jewelry, and carvings. Quality galleries line Romero and San Felipe streets from the Plaza to Mountain Road, as well as the side plazas. On Romero, check out Plaza San Luis and Plazuela Sombra, upstairs and down. On San Felipe, don’t miss the fine art, photo and Hispanic folk-art galleries tucked away in Poco Apoco Patio. Take time to explore the ethnic art stores, too. You’ll find creative folk and religious art, textiles and paintings from Mexico, Guatemala, Latin America and Southwest artists. 

Indian-Owned Galleries

  • Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
    (1-3 hours, 1204 12th St. NW, 505-843-7270, )

    New Mexican art gallery at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center by ACVB If you want outstanding Indian art, two Indian-owned galleries offer the best selections in the region. The gift shop at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center carries a wide variety of art and crafts from the 19 pueblos in New Mexico. The collection of rings, jewelry, pottery, rugs, sculpture, books, paintings and recordings vary in price from kid-affordable to top dollar. Visiting vendors often sell their hand-crafted items during the traditional dance performances held every weekend. After shopping, sample the artistic blend of flavors at the Pueblo Harvest Café. The “Native-Fusion” menu features buffalo tenderloin, grilled salmon and New Mexican lamb with live entertainment on weekend evenings and Sunday brunch.
  • Bien Mur Indian Market
    (1/2 hour, 100 Bien Mur Dr. NE on Sandia Pueblo, 505-821-5400)

    The Bien Mur Indian Market carries only the best tribal art from across the Southwest. Located across the road from the Sandia Resort & Casino on Tramway just off I-25, the two-story, round building is packed with the largest collection of fine Indian art that you’ll find in the city. Best of all, they offer 33%-off during Balloon Fiesta and other major city events.

Hispanic Art

As the first colonists entering New Mexico, Hispanic artisans and craftsmen brought art forms that still greatly influence modern artists. Hispanic art often reflects a fusion of indigenous Spanish, Mexican, African, North American and religious influences. Plan to spend several hours at the National Hispanic Cultural Center Art Museum. The small gallery at the South Broadway Cultural Center also displays and sells Hispanic art.

  • National Hispanic Cultural Center
    (1-3 hours; 1701 Fourth Street SW; 505-246-2261, closed Monday)

    Water pours from an overhead aqueduct into a pond in front of the National Hispanic Cultural Center. With the entrance styled to resemble a Mayan pyramid, the campus includes an art museum, performing arts complex, library and genealogy center, education center, restaurant and gift shop.  The center is in the heart of the historic Barelas neighborhood, a Hispanic community since colonial times.

    The center’s art museum exhibits an extensive collection of fine paintings and dimensional art. The subjects reflect the culture, concerns and perspectives of modern Hispanics. Treatments vary from traditional iconic to whimsical, surrealistic, cultural-fusion and visionary. The rotating permanent collection and traveling exhibits transcend traditional Hispanic religious art and blur the stereotypes that try to box in the vibrant, evolving culture.

    Want to spice up your day, and night? Drop in for one of the center’s free Salsa and Cha-Cha dance lessons. The center offers a variety of music, dance and theatrical performances. Check the schedule for matinees and evening performances, which may include Flamenco music and dance, classical concerts, cutting-edge theatres and Spanish-language films. Some programs are free; all are world-class.

    For that hard-to-find gift, check out the art in La Tiendita gift shop. When it’s time for a real Hispanic experience, savor the green or red chile enchiladas or posole, a pork-based soup with hominy, at La Fonda del Bosque restaurant, open for breakfast and lunch. Or grab a cup of hot chocolate topped off with a cinnamon- and anise-flavored biscochito, the official state cookie.
  • South Broadway Cultural Center
    (1/2 hour, 1025 S. Broadway SE, 505-848-1320, )

    This multi-purpose community center a few blocks from the National Hispanic Cultural Center displays and sells a small but impressive collection of Hispanic art. The surrealistic paintings of Santiago Perez, also in the Hispanic Center’s permanent collection, portray birds flying airplanes and the classic Hispanic mural-style canvases. A public library and 300-seat performing arts theater complete the community center. 

New Mexican Art Tour II: Contemporary and Fine Arts

6-12 hours

Day Trip Map

Old Town

(1-4 hours,

Old Town has the reputation as a Native American art center, but if your taste is more avant-garde, you’ll find contemporary galleries with visual and ceramic arts, jewelry, photography and sculpture. Concentrated along Romero and San Felipe streets, a half-dozen galleries feature the works of the finest regional artists and artisans. Some of the top-end galleries also carry contemporary, non-traditional work by Indian artists.

New Mexican Art Museums

Sculpture at the Albuquerque Museum by ACVB - New Mexican art

  • Albuquerque Museum of Art & History
    (1-3 hours, 2000 Mountain Road NW, 505-243-7255, )

    Besides the New Mexico history collections, the Albuquerque Museum of Art & History exhibits works from the late 19th century to the present. The halls feature contemporary and historical regional artists and traveling exhibits. Docents give morning tours of the Sculpture Garden that surrounds the museum from April through November. Dozens of realistic and abstract sculptures represent both historical and modern themes.
  • University of New Mexico Art Museum
    (1 hour, Central & Cornell NE, 505-277-4001, )

    The galleries of the University of New Mexico Art Museum exhibit samples of its 27,000-piece collection of prints, sculpture, Colonial art, photography and paintings from Renaissance to modern times. The 10,000 prints and photographs are the largest university collection in the country. The Jonson Gallery, the home and collection of Modernist painter Raymond Jonson, a contemporary of Georgia O’Keeffe, exhibits contemporary art from the 1920s to current university students. 
From Old Town to Nob Hill, the Central Avenue/Route 66 corridor abounds with New Mexican art galleries. In the heart of downtown, you’ll find conceptual and contemporary art, fine art, community art, New Mexican folk art and Indian art galleries. Farther east in Nob Hill, shop for the eclectic and bizarre in Mexican folk art and world import galleries, as well as fine art and jewelry in high-end galleries.

Corrales Galleries
(1-2 hours, Corrales Road north from NM 528, Alameda Road)

As Albuquerque grew through the decades, clusters of galleries and artist studios sprung up in neighborhoods across the city. The rural lifestyle of the village of Corrales has attracted artists since horses roamed its dusty streets… actually they still do. Small galleries, mostly co-op or artist-owned, line the winding Corrales Road with New Mexican folk art and fine art from the numerous local artists.

(1-3 hours, 505-244-0362,

The eclectic Albuquerque art scene, called “quirky” by AmericanStyle magazine, features gallery walks on the first and third Friday of each month sponsored by the Albuquerque Art Business Association. The citywide First Friday ArtsCrawl highlights about two dozen participating gallery and art centers. The Third Friday ArtsCrawl, in its 19th year, focuses on a different section of town each month with 10-12 participating galleries. The galleries showcase openings, new artists, and special exhibits and often feature light refreshments and live music. Call or check the website for list of galleries and maps.

Public Art
(Enjoy public art displays throughout the city as you travel between galleries,

Since 1978, Albuquerque has dedicated 1% of all general obligation funds for construction to public art. Now, more than 600 works of art decorate city parks, plazas, offices and buildings, intersections, overpasses and esplanades. Eye-catching sculptures, paintings, murals, metal works, walls and benches decorate the parks and public buildings throughout town. Towering statues, archways and ceramic murals add commuter interest to the city’s major thoroughfares. While waiting for your flight, enjoy the eclectic collection of contemporary and Native American art displayed at the Albuquerque International Sunport.
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