Monday, March 10, 2014

The Millicent Rogers Museum

millicent rogers
The Millicent Rogers Museum (MRM) is one of my favorite places to take guests when they visit Taos. The beautiful building, located in a historic hacienda, is the former home of Claude and Elizabeth Anderson who were friends of Millicent Rogers. The museum was established to "showcase Millicent's stellar collection of Native American jewelry and textiles and superb examples of Hispanic religious and secular artists".* The museum also houses an extensive collection of Native American Arts, Hispanic Arts, Contemporary Arts and an extraordinary collection of pottery by Maria Martinez and her family, of San Ildefonso Pueblo.

*From the Millicent Rogers Museum website:




Established as a memorial to Millicent Rogers whose inspiration, patronage and collections form the cores of its holdings. 


Millicent 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, New Mexico. Here, she became close friends with many of the founding members of the Taos artist’s colony including Dorothy Brett.

Due to rheumatic fever as a child, Millicent was often ill and so the high mountain air helped her physically. Sadly, however, she died very young leaving three sons and a collection of jewelry, weavings and art that live on in the museum named for her. A central permanent exhibit in the museum showcases the turquoise and silver jewelry collection assembled by Millicent during her life.

The Millicent Rogers Museum was established in 1956 by her family as a memorial to her memory and to showcase the arts and cultures of the southwest that had so fascinated Millicent. Millicent’s sons Peter Salm, Paul Peralta-Ramos and Arturo Peralta-Ramos were the leading forces in establishing the museum. In particular, Paul Peralta-Ramos dedicated much of his life to building the extraordinary collection of more than 7000 objects documenting the arts and cultures of the southwest.  
Paul Peralta-Ramos

His friendship with Maria Martinez, the famed potter of San Ildefonso Pueblo, ultimately led to her family donating what is the largest publicly held collection of Maria material in the world. This collection encompasses not only Maria’s professional career as a potter but also includes numerous items relating to her private life including clothing, jewelry, and papers. That collection is now the centerpiece of a major permanent exhibition on her life and work.

Paul devoted himself to building a premier collection for the museum of Native American, Hispanic and Anglo arts from the southwest. This collection includes more than 1000 pieces of pottery from the prehistoric to the present and representing every major pottery-making center in the region. Having built this collection for the museum, he then focused on acquiring the best available examples of Hispanic Santos from the region. Santos are arguably one of the few truly American folk arts. Crafted within familial dynasties, Santos or saints were made as part of traditional southwestern Roman Catholic religious traditions. The museum’s collection spans from the great master carvers of the 18th and 19th centuries such as Jose Aragon, Jose Rafael Aragon, Antonio Molleno and Pedro Fresquis to the work of contemporary makes such as Victor Goler, Sabanita Lopez Ortiz, and others.

Other significant collections assembled by Paul Peralta-Ramos include Apache baskets, Plains beadwork (much obtained locally and reflected inter-tribal trade), katsinas, and Peyote-cult materials. Like his mother, he shared an interest in southwestern textiles. Using Millicent’s collection as a core to build upon, he acquired major weavings representing all four phases of the evolution of the Navajo Chief’s blankets. He also purchased significant, and in many cases unique, examples of Hispanic weavings from the Rio Grande Valley. Scholars now know that Hispanic weavers have been producing fine weavings in this region for more than four hundred years. In many cases, the production of these weavings is through an unbroken chain of interconnected families.

Since Paul’s death, the museum has continued to refine and define its collections. In the last several years, this has included major donations of contemporary pottery and jewelry as well as select acquisitions of historic materials to fill in critical gaps.

The museum rotates its collections on a frequent basis through its galleries. The museum is unique in the southwest because of its intimate exhibit spaces. The museum is housed in a hacienda that was donated by the family of Mr. and Mrs. Claude Anderson. Enlarged over time, including a wing by the famed architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the museum is truly a place to come face to face with the rich and diverse heritage of the cultures of the southwest.
photo from the MRM website
There are often special events and shows at the museum so, if you are lucky enough to live here, you may find yourself visiting often. For tourists any time you visit Taos is a good time to check out MRM. 

This past weekend was the 2nd annual Taos Pueblo Artist's Winter Showcase. From late winter to early spring the Pueblo closes for about 10 weeks for what is called "quiet time". During this time, the artists who live and work at the Pueblo need to find other ways to show their art. The showcase provides this opportunity for a number of extremely talented artists.

The "headliner" (my term, not theirs) was Patricia Michaels, a Season 11 finalist in the show Project Runway. In addition, there were potters, painters, glass blowers, photographers, tribal drum makers, carvers and jewelry makers. We bought a beautiful piece from local artist Jocelyn Martinez, a monotype called "evening harvest" which is an abstract depiction of a corn field. I can't wait to share it with you...I will photograph and post as soon as we get it framed. 

The show has ended but if you visit Taos next March you can check it out then. Or visit the artists in their studios when the Pueblo is open. And don't forget to tour the Millicent Rogers Museum. A very worthwhile use of your time in Taos.

The Millicent Rogers Museum is located at 1504 Millicent Rogers Road, 4 miles north of Taos Plaza and 1/2 mile south of Highway 64. 

"The Museum is open every day, April 1 through October 31 from 10:10 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. We suggest a 1-2 hour visit in order to view all our exhibitions. Please note that during the winter months, from November through March, the museum will be closed on Mondays although our hours on the other days remain the same."

My best,
March 10, 2014

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