Written by Ashley M. Biggers
New Mexico State University Museum
This museum is a repository for archeological materials excavated by faculty and staff, so it boasts an impressive collection of items from prehistoric sites—including the earliest domesticated corn in the American Southwest collected from caves in the Organ Mountains. Its Pottery from the Americas collection includes almost 600 vessels that reflects a range of artistry from the Southwest to Mesoamerica.
NMSU Campus, Kent Hall, 1280 E. University Ave.
Geronimo Springs Museum
This museum’s permanent displays include a Southwestern pottery collection, mostly in the graphic Mimbres and Tularosa sides, some dating to 200 AD. A life-size wax statue of Geronimo greets visitors to the Apache room and is accompanied by an impressive arrowhead display and other elements of apache life. A cabin, which was dismantled from the Black Range Mountains and painstakingly reconstructed, stands at one end of the museum reflecting the area’s mining past and exhibiting some tools from that era.
211 Main St., Truth or Consequences
Hubbard Museum of the American West
A dramatic eight-piece bronze sculpture by Dave McGary, “Free Spirits at Noisy Water,” greets visitors to this Smithsonian-affiliated museum (the only in the state). 2017 marks its 25th year of exhibiting both art and artifacts of the West. The core collection includes modes of transportation—including stagecoaches and a Conestoga wagon—and rifles. Revolving exhibitions have touched on Native American pottery and the paintings of the Wyeth-Hurd family.
26301 U.S. 70, Ruidoso Downs
Western Heritage Museum & Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame
This general history museum traces the region’s past from the days to dinosaurs to when homesteaders struck black gold in 1927. Founded by Lea County rancher and professional roper Dale “Tuffy” Cooper, the Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame celebrates in photos, bios, and mementos (like saddles and spurs), the county’s outsized rodeo successes. An animatronic cowboy greets visitors ‘round the campfire and answers questions about cowboying—from cattle drives to life on the range.
1 Thunderbird Circle, Hobbs
The Old West exhibits don’t stop here. Visit lascrucesmagazine.com/oldwestmuseums/ to discover more museums in the area you won’t want to miss including the Silver City Museum and the Pancho Villa and Railroad Depot Museum in Columbus, NM.