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Small metro area museums: Our treasure chests

With the metro area inundated with visitors from across the country with the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, finding some local places that fly under the radar to entertain guests just might be a handy way to pass some time in between flights.

Across the Albuquerque area, there are a number of museums that many visitors might not know about that might even have escaped many who call Albuquerque home.

The Turquoise Museum (turquoisemuseum.com) in Old Town is home to the largest and rarest collection of turquoise in the world, said owner Joe Dan Lowry.

“We have displays from 80 turquoise mines from around the world,” he said. “We have a working lapidary where we cut and polish turquoise, and we tell the history of turquoise and expose the mythologies.”

The Turquoise Museum in Albuquerque’s Old Town is an homage to the mineral, with displays from more than 80 mines around the world.

Educating the public about the precious mineral is one of the big benefits of the museum, he said.

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For instance, “New Mexico doesn’t have the best turquoise,” he said. “Everything everybody thought they know about turquoise isn’t going to be true. But we can teach them so that when they’re going out to have fun shopping for turquoise, they really can have fun going out to shop for turquoise.”

The museum is ordinarily open for guided tours twice a day, but during Balloon Fiesta week, it is open for walk-in tours throughout the day, Lowry said.

“It’s a cool visit,” he added.

This ancient Czech Torah was stolen by the Nazis in the late 1930s and recovered after World War II. It is now on display at the Holocaust & Intolerance Museum of New Mexico. (SOURCE: The Holocaust & Intolerance Museum Of New Mexico)

The Holocaust & Intolerance Museum of New Mexico (nmholocaustmuseum.org) offers a more sobering experience, but one that leaves a lasting impression, said Marcia Rosenstein, museum vice president.

“We have exhibits not only about the Holocaust, but other instances of intolerance,” she said.

Among the exhibits, the museum has a loaned copy of an antique Czech Torah scroll containing the first five books of the Old Testament. It was one of many that were collected by Nazis from synagogues during the 1930s and recovered after the war, Rosenstein said.

The Flossenbürg Flag is another important display, as it is the original flag made by the prisoners and flown over the Flossenbürg concentration camp as the Allies approached it in World War II. After the camp prisoners were liberated, a young American soldier, Roy Shaffer, saw the flag still flying and asked to keep it, then later retired to Albuquerque and donated it to the museum.

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Casa San Ysidro in Corrales is a rebuilt adobe home constructed in the manner akin to the plazuela style common during the Spanish Colonial period of New Mexico.

Loaded with artwork, particularly the tinwork of noted 19th century artist Higinio V. Gonzales, the home also contains “an astonishing collection of furniture,” said Emily Stovel, site manager.

The New Mexico Steam Locomotive and Railroad Historical Society is not so much a museum as a labor of love as a group of volunteers works to restore AT&SF locomotive No. 2926 Super Chief to the rails. (SOURCE: The New Mexico Steam Locomotive And Railroad Historical Society)

While not exactly a museum as such, the New Mexico Steam Locomotive and Railroad Historical Society (nmslrhs.org) offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a steam locomotive as a dedicated group of volunteers works to restore the AT&SF locomotive No. 2926 Super Chief to the rails.

One of only 30 such locomotives built, No. 2926 is the only one of the few remaining likely to ride under its own power again, said Rick Kirby, chief mechanical officer for the project.

“It pulled all the movie actors and actresses from St. Louis to LA,” he said.

The group is hoping to have it rolling again by sometime in 2018, but until then, visitors may check out the work and browse the gift shop from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays.

About 65 restored cars and trucks fill the J&R Auto Museum in Rio Rancho, ranging from a 1912 Buick to a 1969 Mercury Cougar. (SOURCE: J&R Auto Museum)

In Rio Rancho, J&R Vintage Autos (jrvintageautos.com) has about 65 artfully restored antique cars and trucks and even a few old scooters, said Melvonna Roy, daughter of Gab and Evonna Joiner, who started the museum in 1995.

Other auto memorabilia fills out the walls of the museum.

The favorites are the ones Gab and Evonna Joiner used in the Great American Race: a 1931 Model A Ford Roadster pickup, a 1932 Packard, a 1932 Hupmobile, a 1917 Marmon, a 1934 Ford Roadster, a 1916 White, a 1922 Marmon and a 1932 Ford.

People of the Southwest is an ongoing exhibition at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico and one its most visited. (SOURCE: The University of New Mexico)

And on the campus of the University of New Mexico, the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology (maxwellmuseum.unm.edu) houses collections from around the world spanning 2.5 million years of human cultural development. Although its collections emphasize the American Southwest, other strengths include Africa, the Arctic, Australia, Central and South America, India, New Guinea, Oceania, Pakistan and Southeast Asia. The museum houses more than 1 million archaeological and ethnological objects, human skeletal remains, orthodontic records of thousands of individuals and more than 100,000 images.

With the metro area inundated with visitors from across the country

for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, finding local places that fly under the radar to entertain guests might be a handy way to pass

some time in between flights. Across the metro area, there are actually a number of museums that many visitors might not know about and might even have escaped those who call Albuquerque home.

ry.

ry said.

“We have displays from 80 turquoise mines from around the world,” he said. “We have a working lapidary where we cut and polish turquoise and we tell the history of turquoise and expose the mythologies.”

Educating the public about the precious metal is one of the big benefits of the museum, he said.

For instance, “New Mexico doesn’t have the best turquoise,” he said. “Everything everybody thought they know about turquoise isn’t going to be true. But we can teach them so that when they’re going out to have fun shopping for turquoise, they really can have fun going out to shop for turquoise.”

The museum is ordinarily open for guided tours twice a day, but during Fiesta week, it is open for walk-in tours throughout the day, Low”It’s a cool visit,” he added.

Allies approached it in World War II. After the camp prisoners were liberated, a young American soldier, Roy Shaffer, saw the flag still flying and asked to keep it, then later retired to Albuquerque and donated it to the museum.

The Holocaust & Intolerance Museum of New Mexico

The Turquoise Museum

J&R Vintage Autos

New Mexico Steam Locomotive and Railroad Historical Society

Maxwell Museum of Anthropology

Casa San Ysidro

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