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Albuquerque Museum series spotlights its collections and N.M.’s culture

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Albuquerque Museum’s 50th anniversary was last year. But you might say it is carrying over the celebration into 2018.

The continued celebration comes in the publication of a guidebook titled “Albuquerque Museum History Collection: Only in Albuquerque.”

Think of the book as a gift – from the museum to the public.

And it is the second of a three-volume series. The first, which came out last year, was “Albuquerque Museum Photo Archives Collection: Images in Silver,” and the third, expected out later this year, will be on the museum’s art collection.

“Technically, they are not catalogs. They are compilations of the best material we have in our collections in all three sections,” said Deborah C. Slaney, the museum’s history curator and history guidebook author.

Writing the text for the history collection guidebook, Slaney said, was “an exercise in distilling a large amount of information and then drawing out the most compelling stories about the individual artifacts.”

Museum director Andrew Connors added that the format is “intimate, and individual entries do not have to be read sequentially. Each page tells its own self-contained story of an object worthy of re-examination.”

The artifact on the front cover of the book, for example, is a 17th century repostero, or heraldic tapestry, that was commissioned by Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, the 8th Duke of Alburquerque, Spain. It was woven in Messina, Sicily, out of silk, linen and galloon, a metallic thread-wrapped fabric.

In 1956, the 18th Duke and Duchess of Alburquerque, Spain, gave the repostero to the city of Albuquerque for the city’s 250th anniversary.

A photograph of the tapestry is inside the book. The accompanying text describes many of the images woven in it, such as the coat of arms with emblems representing the duke’s ancestral family name, as well as helmets, swords and battle axes along the tapestry’s borders.

Other artifacts in the book have compelling stories. These are two of them.

One is the poncho-style Navajo serape woven in about 1850.

Architectural historian Bainbridge Bunting found the weaving in an abandoned apartment building in New York City, Slaney said.

“It is probably the rarest classic Navajo blanket in the collection.

Rare because it’s a poncho-style with the neck slit,” she said. “It was in beautiful condition when (Bunting) donated it to the museum, so most likely, he had it conserved.”

Another artifact in the book has a similar “Look what I found” moment. It is a 47-star flag of the United States.

“The flag was found in the attic by the new owner of the home in Atlanta, Neb.,” Slaney said.

New Mexico was the 47th state admitted to the union. It was a short-lived flag. A month later, Arizona was admitted as the 48th state.

The square 47-star flag the museum purchased is made of linen with metallic thread with gold fringes on three sides. The flag was found in its original oilcloth bag and with a two-piece flagpole, Slaney said.

Slaney discussed why there’s the need for the “Only in Albuquerque” book if there’s already a history exhibit of the same name.

The book, she said, can be used by researchers as an introduction to the exhibit and as a guide to the history collection.

The Museum of New Mexico Press is the publisher.

Copies of the first two volumes are available at the store inside the museum or by calling 242-0434. The museum is at 2000 Mountain NW.

Greatest hits

A three-volume book series from the Albuquerque Museum spotlights

its collections and N.M.’s culture