Turning 20: New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum celebrates - Albuquerque Journal

Turning 20: New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum celebrates

It took years of planning to get a museum dedicated to New Mexico farming and the ranching lifestyle.

In fact, the lifestyle is a big part of New Mexico’s history and a major economic factor.

With all the hard work laid down in nearly a decade, the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum officially opened on May 17, 1998.

A Brahman bull greets the crowd during the Parade of Breeds cattle program at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum. (Courtesy of Dawn Santiago)

The 47-acre, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs museum has 12,000 artifacts, livestock, barns, corrals, a greenhouse and the Historic Green Bridge.

Now the museum is celebrating its 20th anniversary on Saturday, May 19.

According to the museum, a day of demonstrations, children’s activities, rides and special programs wraps up a week commemorating the anniversary.

Craig Massey, NMFRHM communications manager, says from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 19, a reduced admission rate of only $5 per carload will be in place for this day only.

He says food vendors will be on site and all of the museum’s regular offerings are included.

Part of the events taking place on Saturday will be the Parade of Breeds cattle program, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Livestock Manager Greg Ball will take examples of each of the museum’s seven breeds of beef cattle into the Round Pen to talk about their origin and characteristics.

Visitors can watch from shaded bleachers.

Pony rides for kids are part of the fun during the museum’s 20th anniversary celebration on May 19. (Courtesy of Dawn Santiago)

Pony rides for children will begin about 11:30 a.m. and continue into the afternoon. The cost for a ride is $5.

There will also be free games for the children, and the museum’s chuck wagon will be set up with samples, Massey says.

The New Mexico Vintage Iron tractor club will have antique tractors on display, as well as lawn tractors, hit-and-miss engines, a grist mill and rope making. There will also be lawn and garden tractor sled pulls, as well as parades and barrel rides.

Demonstrations on May 19 include a milking demonstration at 10 a.m., blacksmithing and woodcarving.

Masseys says the museum also will have its greenhouse plants on sale, including herbs, tomato plants, succulents, trees and ice plants.

“Sodbuster, San Isidro” sculpture by the late artist Luis Jiménez. (SOURCE: New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum)

Also happening at the museum is the presentation of the Luis Jiménez sculpture, “Sodbuster, San Isidro,” which will be placed inside the museum lobby.

The 22-feet-long “Sodbuster, San Isidro” sculpture is a bearded farmer, muscles flexing as he walks behind two oxen pulling a plow. Jiménez created the piece in 1982 as part of the Art in Public Places program, and its original location was in Fargo, N.D. A version of the sculpture was at the Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in 2002.

The sculpture will be presented at a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. tonight. The free reception includes hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar, and is part of the celebration of the museum’s anniversary.

As part of the reception, Christian Waguespack, curator of 20th century art at the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, will speak in the museum’s theater about the artist and his work, including the dramatic, fiberglass “Sodbuster, San Isidro” sculpture.

“Luis Jiménez’s monumental sculpture ‘Sodbuster, San Isidro’ will serve as a centerpiece for the Farm & Ranch Museum as visitors enter our main lobby,” museum Director Mark Santiago says. “The sculpture is very unique and in many ways evokes the different cultural streams that flowed together to produce the vibrant agricultural traditions here in New Mexico.”

Jiménez’s widow, Susan B. Jiménez of Hondo, will attend the reception. The sculpture is on loan from collector Russell Tether of Dallas.

Jiménez, who died in 2006 at his studio in Hondo, was born in El Paso in 1940. He is best-known for his large-scale, brightly colored sculptures steeped in the Mexican-American culture of New Mexico and Texas. Jiménez used fiberglass and spray paint in much of his work. Jiménez’s works were considered controversial by the art world yet respected in Hispanic communities for his ability to poignantly represent a different perspective and narrative of the history and culture of Mexico and the Southwest.


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