The Art Collector’s Guide to Santa Fe’s Best Museums

The City Different is a collector’s paradise. It’s home to hundreds of galleries, and as the third-largest art market in the US, there’s truly something for everyone. But believe it or not, the artistic inspiration doesn’t end there. Santa Fe is also packed with museums, and no art-collecting trip to Santa Fe is complete without visiting at least a few. In addition to providing a wealth of education and inspiration, the museums are a cornerstone of the city’s vibrant and ever-growing arts community. They’re not only a great place to get an overview of a topic you’re interested in learning more about, they’re a great place to connect with like-minded individuals who appreciate all things creative. Many of the city’s museums offer a wealth of classes, workshops and events and foster a sense of camaraderie. No matter your taste, you’ll find a museum that sparks your interest, and whether you’re an experienced collector or an art-world novice, there’s no better way to dive straight in and immerse yourself in inspiration. Here are some of our favorites.

The Museum of International Folk Art
This museum is unlike any other you’ve been to, guaranteed. Quite literally bursting at the seams with color and vibrancy, the dolls, puppets, masks and textiles on display are just the tip of the iceberg. The permanent collection is so detailed that it stands up well to repeated viewings, and the rotating exhibitions always offer up something unexpected and fun. It’s the ideal spot to discover something new to love, and then take the inspiration to find similar pieces in Santa Fe’s galleries.


Alexander Girard, photo courtesy of the Museum of International Folk Art

SITE Santa Fe
One of Santa Fe’s most interesting museums, SITE Santa Fe is a must-visit for anyone who loves contemporary art. The airy, industrial space in the Railyard Arts District fosters community and introduces visitors to challenging contemporary pieces and installations, and its proximity to nine galleries makes it easy to hop from inspiration to exploration to building your collection – all in an afternoon.

One of Santa Fe’s most interesting museums, SITE Santa Fe is a must-visit for anyone who loves contemporary art. The airy, industrial space in the Railyard Arts District fosters community and introduces visitors to challenging contemporary pieces and installations, and its proximity to nine galleries makes it easy to hop from inspiration to exploration to building your collection – all in an afternoon.

Photo courtesy of SITE Santa Fe

New Mexico Museum of Art
This unique museum is chock-full of pieces by both established and emerging artists, all of whom start conversations through art on the experience of living and working in New Mexico. Opened in 1917, the museum’s open-door policy as far as whose work is displayed has made it one of the most vibrant and exciting museums in the city.

New Mexico History Museum
Located in the Palace of the Governors, the longest continually-occupied building in the United States, this museum does more than preserve objects – it preserves cultural resources and is dedicated to telling the centuries-long story of the Land of Enchantment. It’s not every day that you’ll find yourself in a building that dates back to 1610, and the knowledge you’ll gain inside will give you context as you visit galleries and build your collection.

The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
Santa Fe truly is The City Different. In addition to being the nation’s third-largest art market, it has a unique mix of cultural influences that can be seen in everything from art to architecture to food. The influence of Native Americans on Santa Fe is celebrated at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, a great starting point for visitors who are interested in learning more about what makes Santa Fe one-of-a-kind.

Museum of Contemporary Native Arts
A must-visit for collectors, this museum provides visitors with a wealth of names to follow and unique exhibitions and collections that meld contemporary art with traditional cultural influences. From a sculpture garden to student and special exhibitions, as well as artist demonstrations and interactive displays, immerse yourself in some of the most progressive and thought-provoking Native American art in the country.


“Young Chicksaw Man,” courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

The Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA)
Located slightly off the beaten path, this oasis of creativity along Old Santa Fe Trail is a museum apart. In addition to socially relevant exhibitions of visual art, the CCA also shows independent, documentary and classic films on a regular basis. The CCA prides itself on creating a community of people dedicated to learning about art and sharing it with the world.

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
Arguably the most famous artist of the Southwest, Georgia O’Keeffe is a well-loved icon around the world. Her extraordinary work is on permanent display at this downtown space, a contemplative environment that transports visitors to a world of spectacular imagery. No visit to Santa Fe is complete without a stop here.


Photo courtesy of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum