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A museum gem opens its doors in an iconic home

The Gertrude Zachary mansion at Second and Lead SW is now home to the Turquoise Museum.(Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Turquoise Museum, already a stalwart of the Albuquerque tourism market, has completed its move into one of the city’s most iconic buildings, the Gertrude Zachary mansion.

The private museum has nearly doubled its footprint with the move out of Old Town. It is now leasing about 8,500 square feet at what is known locally as the “castle” at 400 Second SW. That, in turn, should allow the museum to greatly increase the number of visitors it can accommodate.

“The minute we walked into the castle, we knew it would be the perfect home for our world-class turquoise collection, our library and our educational initiatives,” Executive Director Jacob Lowry told the Journal last year.

Executive Director Jacob Lowry at the Turquoise Museum. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

The museum had hoped to open in the new spot last summer, but renovations took longer than expected because of difficulties finding appropriate architectural detailing, Lowry said last week.

But now that things are up and running, he’s happy to once again share the museum’s collection.

“It’s fascinating to get people through here and be able to see turquoise in a global environment, instead of just showcasing the Southwestern world, that everyone locally knows it as,” he said.

The museum does have a gallery dedicated to the history and art of turquoise in the Southwest, but it also has stones from across the globe, including Egypt, Iran, China, Tibet, South America and elsewhere. Its signature piece is the George Washington Stone, which Lowry says is among “the most collectible” turquoise stones in the world. The story goes that when artisans finished cutting it, the stone had a distinctive profile, and they debated over whom it resembled. Ultimately, they settled on George Washington.

Merchandise is on display in the gift shop of the Turquoise Museum.

“If you compare it to the profile on a quarter, it actually does look like it,” Lowry said.

Entrance to the museum is $20 for the general public and $15 for military, AAA members and those under 18 years old or over 55. It also operates a gift shop at the museum and a flower shop next door that has been open for about a year. There are plans to open a cafe, possibly this summer.

Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with last entrance at 4 p.m. More information is available at turquoisemuseum.com.

Crackin’ Crab

If the desert is making you thirsty for a seafood boil, you’re in luck: Crackin’ Crab has opened a third Albuquerque location at Winrock Town Center.

That’s in addition to the restaurants other three sites: one at 10600 Unser in Albuquerque, one at 4959 Pan America Freeway NE in Albuquerque, and one at 604 N. Guadalupe St. in Santa Fe.

Husband-and-wife team Rack and Vanh Mingkhamsavath are the duo behind Crackin’ Crab. In a news release, Rack Mingkhamsavath said he expected a “smooth transition” with the new restaurant.

Vanh Mingkhamsavath said she believes the Winrock location “has tremendous upside.”

In a statement, Richard Gallegos, commercial broker with SVN Team Southwest and the Mingkhamsavath’s representative, agreed.

“Crackin’ Crab’s much-anticipated next expansion phase at Winrock Town Center should be a hit based on the popularity of the exceptional food, and its … proximity to a movie theater like the original location,” he said.

Hobby Lobby

Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., the privately held chain of craft and home decor retailers, plans to open a new location in Albuquerque in early June.

Construction is underway on a new 55,000-square-foot building at Coors Blvd SW and Lamonica Road SW.

The project is expected to bring between 35 and 50 jobs to the area. Full-time employees will make $15.70 an hour, and part-time associates will make $10.45 an hour, according to the company.

In a statement, Hobby Lobby Director of Advertising Kelly Black said the company believes shoppers are “eagerly anticipating this store opening.”

“The success of our stores in New Mexico is a good indicator that Albuquerque shoppers will be pleased with the quality, selection and value we offer in the craft and home decor market,” said Black.

Hobby Lobby now has 11 locations in New Mexico.

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