Farm & Ranch Museum talk explores state’s diversity

Farm & Ranch Museum

The New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum this month celebrates the 20th anniversary of the construction of their main building

August 11, 7 p.m.: Culture Series: New Mexico’s Living Landscapes
New Mexico is third among states of greatest natural diversity, exceeded only by Texas and California. Bill Dunmire’s slide-illustrated talk takes you through New Mexico’s six eco regions and along some of our magnificent State and National Scenic Byways — from grasslands to mountains to deserts, focusing on the most interesting landscape features and the plants and wildlife that occur there. The narrative along with the stunning color photography will provide audiences with an understanding of the elements that define our natural environments and will direct road travelers to many of the state’s best loved natural features. Dunmire enjoyed a 28-year career with the National Park Service. He was chief of interpretation for the entire service in the mid-1970s. He also served as superintendent of Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains, Texas, National Parks in 1985, then spent seven years as a field biologist in New Mexico for the Nature Conservancy. Now, he is a writer, lecturer, and photographer, traveling widely to research his material. Admission to this program is free, however, donations will be accepted.

August 25, 4 – 7 p.m.: Exhibit opening: Narrie Toole: Honoring the Past, Bridging Culture and Sharing Wisdom
This exhibition of paintings by Santa Fe artist Narrie Toole honors Native American spirituality, wisdom, and leadership. Everyone is invited to the opening reception from 4 – 7 p.m. on August 25. It’s free and there will be refreshments. The show will be on display in the museum’s Arts Corridor through December 4. The exhibit includes five of the “Faces of Our Fathers” series — individuals who were leaders, forward thinkers, who provided spiritual guidance and skilled negotiations as part of protecting quality of life of their families and tribe.

August 27, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Community Appreciation Day
There will be free admission for everyone on August 27 as they celebrate the 20th anniversary of the construction of the museum’s main building and the creation of the newest venue on the 47-acre campus — the Heritage Garden. The festivities feature many demonstrations, including blacksmithing, wool spinning, sewing, weaving, and wood carving. Pony rides for children, which cost $5, will be from 10:30 to 12. The museum is also celebrating the recent announcement that it was awarded accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums. In addition to the dedication of the Heritage Garden, they will honor the museum’s founders.

The museum has achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies, and to the museum-going public.

“I am extremely honored that the Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum has been recognized as one of the premier museums in our state and region,” said Museum Director Mark Santiago. “This achievement is due to the enormous dedication of our staff, volunteers, board of directors, and supporters.”

The accreditation reviewers who visited the museum last spring noted the teamwork of the staff and volunteers, as well as the “high quality” exhibits and collections. The “living collection program (livestock),” received special notice. “From our perspective, this aspect of the museum is a regional and perhaps national model that is strengthened and supported by the knowledge and skill of the well trained staff,” the reviewers said in their concluding narrative.

Alliance Accreditation brings national recognition to a museum for its commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards and continued institutional improvement. Developed and sustained by museum professionals for 45 years, the alliance’s museum accreditation program is the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation and public accountability.

Of the nation’s estimated 35,000 museums, just over 1,000 are currently accredited. The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum is the only one in Las Cruces and one of only four in southern New Mexico.

Accreditation is a rigorous but rewarding process that examines all aspects of a museum’s operations. To earn accreditation a museum first must conduct a year of self-study, and then undergo a site visit by a team of peer reviewers.

The museum, which is part of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, opened in 1998 and has welcomed visitors from all over the world. The 47-acre campus features the main building (Bruce King Building), along with three large barns, a greenhouse, roping arena, animal pens, the historic Green Bridge, theater, indoor and outdoor exhibits, banquet and event rooms, an amphitheater and a gift shop and snack bar. The animals and demonstrations help make the facility unique among museums.

The museum is located at 4100 Dripping Springs Road in Las Cruces. For more information, call 522-4100 or visit