Society History

1913: Incorporation of “The Society for the Preservation of Spanish Antiquities in New Mexico” – apparent forerunner of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society 

1925: The Society of the Revival of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society founded in Santa Fe by artists/writers Mary Austin and Frank Applegate

1926:  The First competition and exhibition by 11 Hispanic artists (later known as the Spanish Market) is held at the Fine Arts Museum during the Santa Fe Fiesta

1926-1929: Applegate and Austin begin acquiring objects for the Spanish Colonial Arts Society collections. Their first acquisition is an altar screen by 19th-century santero Jose Rafael Aragon, originally from the church at Llano Quemado.

1927:  The second competition and exhibition is held at the Fine Arts Museum during the Fiesta

1928: First Spanish Market is held under the portal at the Palace of the Governors

1929: The Llano Quemado altar screen is installed for exhibition at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, where it remains today.

October 15, 1929: The Spanish Colonial Arts Society is incorporated.

October 15, 1929: On the day of its incorporation, the Spanish Colonial Arts Society purchased the legendary Santuario de Chimayo and donated it to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe to be preserved as a historic and religious landmark.

1929-1934: Frank Applegate is appointed as Society curator and a Committee on a Permanent Collection is formed. The Society begins to actively purchase objects and receive donations for the collections.

1930: The Spanish Arts shop opened in Room 39 of Sena Plaza and provided a year-round market for “revival” handicrafts

1931: Frank Applegate’s death prompts the Society to purchase numerous items from his personal collection of Spanish Colonial art, including bultos, retablos, and colcha embroidery.

1933: The Spanish Arts shop closed

1934: Most Society activities came to a standstill after the death of founder Mary Austin

1938: The Spanish Colonial Arts Society comes out of a brief period of inactivity with the nomination of Dr. Harry P. Mera of Santa Fe as chairperson of its new Collections Committee.

1938: The Spanish Colonial Arts Society comes to an agreement with the Museum of New Mexico for a special exhibition of Spanish Colonial Arts at the Palace of the Governors. The Society placed 48 objects at the Palace, including hide paintings, Rio Grande blankets, Mexican rebozos, altar cloths, and more.

1940-1950: The Spanish Colonial Arts Society experiences a decade of inactivity. Functions were taken over by federally funded art projects and state vocational-training programs.

1951: E. Boyd leads local efforts to revive the Spanish Colonial Arts Society. A Spanish Colonial Arts Department was created at the Museum of New Mexico.

1952: E. Boyd is appointed as the Society’s new curator and a new Collections Committee is formed.

1952: With the assistance of Marjorie Lambert, the Curator of Archaeology at the Palace of the Governors, E. Boyd identifies and re-catalogues objects in the Society’s collections.

1952: The Society first officially expresses its longtime desire to someday have a permanent venue to display its collections by adopting a resolution to “undertake to furnish and install the contents of an old New Mexican house and outbuildings from the Spanish Colonial collections (of the Society).”

1952: E. Boyd uses objects from the Society’s collections to install a re-creation of a northern New Mexico chapel and a Mexican period room at the Palace of the Governors, where they remain on display today.

1953: The Museum of International Folk Art is completed in Santa Fe, and the Society’s collections are moved there from the Palace of the Governors.

May 1954: E. Boyd publishes a Hand List of the Collection of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society, Inc., describing the 140 objects in the collections at this time. Among the objects that were added to the original 35-object collections in the two years since the Society’s re-activation were tinwork, tools and utensils, engravings, weapons, horse gear, jewelry, straw work, a rawhide violin, and contemporary wood carvings.  The Society assisted with renovation work of the old Plaza del Cerro at Chimayo

Mid-1950s: Alan C. Vedder approaches E. Boyd for advice on the restoration of a retablo, then joins her in her efforts to expand, restore, and preserve the Society’s collections. Together over the next two decades, the two acquire and restore thousands of objects and arrange various substantial bequests to the collections. A conscious effort also is made to expand the collections to include comparative objects from Spain, Latin America, and other parts of the Hispanic Catholic world that could have served as prototypes for traditional New Mexican objects.

Early 1960s: Alan Vedder and his wife Ann travel to Spain to collect art works to compare with New Mexican objects in the Society’s collections. They return with 31 items, including provincial religious paintings and sculptures, Spanish majolica ceramics, metal tools, and utensils.

1961: Santa Fe resident Ruth Catlin donates 3.3 acres of land to the Spanish Colonial Arts Society to be used as a potential site or fundraising tool for a museum to house the Society’s collections.

In an effort to extend awareness of New Mexican Hispanic culture beyond the region, Alan Vedder installs New Mexican period rooms at the American Museum at Bath, England, where they remain on view today.

1962: Renowned architect and longtime Society supporter John Gaw Meem and his wife Faith donate an important collection of 34 New Mexican textiles to the collection. The selection of Rio Grande blankets originally was assembled by Dr. Harry P. Mera and is considered one of the most comprehensive collections of New Mexican textiles today.

1963: E. Boyd does her part to broaden awareness of New Mexican Hispanic culture by supervising the installation of an 18th-century New Mexican period room at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

1965: The Society revives the Native Spanish Market which coincided with Indian Market in August.  Eighteen artists exhibited their work under the portal of the First National Bank of Santa Fe

1966: No Market was held due to scheduling problems

1967:  Spanish Market resumes

1971: Spanish Market dates moved to an earlier weekend in August

1972: Some 20 objects from the Society’s collections are loaned for exhibition at the opening of El Rancho de las Golondrinas living history museum in La Cienega, New Mexico. Many of the objects remain on display there today, including doors, windows, shutters, furniture, utensils, crosses, and bultos.

1974: With the death of E. Boyd, the Spanish Colonial Arts Society loses the most influential leader in its history. Alan Vedder replaces E. Boyd as Society curator.

1985: John and Faith Meem make another major donation to the Society with a gift of 147 bultos and retablos.

1988: The Society begins efforts to publish a “museum on paper,” a book that will highlight the Society’s collections of some 2,000 objects of Spanish colonial art and material culture of New Mexico and the world. Alan Vedder and Spanish colonial scholar Donna Pierce prepare for the project by undertaking a thorough inventory and documentation of the collections.

1989: Seventy objects from the Society’s collections are highlighted in the long-term inaugural exhibition of the new Hispanic Heritage Wing at the Museum of International Folk Art.

1989: The deaths of Ann and Alan Vedder in January and December, respectively, result in their bequest of some 500 objects to the Society’s collections, bringing the collections to a total of some 2,500 objects.

1989: The Vedders deaths are met with intensified efforts by the Society to publish a book on its collections in their honor. Donna Pierce succeeds Alan Vedder as Society curator and continues the collections inventory and documentation process until its completion in 1992.

1990s: Pierce and the Society’s Collections Committee continue efforts to expand the Society’s collections. Special emphasis is placed on the acquisition of works by contemporary 20th-century artists.

1992: Sixty-three objects from the Society’s collections are featured in two major exhibits about Spanish life at the Palace of the Governors.

1996: The Society’s “museum on paper” is celebrated with the publication of Spanish New Mexico: The Spanish Colonial Arts Society Collection, edited by Donna Pierce and Marta Weigle and published by the Museum of New Mexico Press. The book is dedicated to the memories of Alan and Ann Vedder.

1998: The Society’s dream of someday having a museum to exhibit its collection comes closer to reality when an anonymous donation of land and a building for use as a museum are received. The Pueblo Revival-style building, which was designed by renowned architect John Gaw Meem in 1930, provides an intimate, homelike setting where visitors from around the world can view the collections and learn the fascinating history of Spanish colonial art worldwide.

July 2002: The Museum of Spanish Colonial Art makes Hispanic history when it opens as the only museum in the world dedicated to the Spanish colonial art and material culture of New Mexico and the world.

2005 – 2011 Contemporary Expressions category offered at Winter Market

2003: Robin Farwell Gavin joins the Museum as Curator at the retirement of Donna Pierce.

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Spanish Market • Museum • Education