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Exhibit, tours to show how artwork makes the grade

Ever wonder how a museum builds its permanent collection?

In the last five years, the permanent collection at the National Hispanic Cultural Center has doubled in size.

That is due to the number of donors who have gifted prized art pieces to the center.

And the NHCC staff will give the public a chance to see and learn about the process with its latest exhibit “The Art of Acquisition: New New Mexican Works at the NHCC.” The exhibit runs through Oct. 30. But on Sunday, staff will give three guided tours of the exhibit.

“We wanted to do this exhibit for a number of reasons,” said Tey Marianna Nunn, visual arts program director. “We really wanted to honor the artists and the donors. And to give the public some insight on how the NHCC acquires art.”

The exhibit features more than 30 pieces of various mediums.

Tamale Man, created by Eric J. Garcia, is part of NHCC's permanent collection.

Tamale Man, created by Eric J. Garcia, is part of NHCC’s permanent collection.

“It’s extraordinary the breadth of art,” she said. “We have contemporary to traditional. We also have Tamale Man.”

Tamale Man is a character created by Eric J. Garcia, and the NHCC has a hand-carved sculpture of the character.

Nunn said all of the pieces featured the exhibit are by New Mexican artists or artists living in New Mexico.

The acquisitions, like the majority of the NHCC Art Museum permanent collection, were given by artists and collectors.

Accepting a donation is serious business, and the NHCC Art Museum has a rigorous process of approval before an object can become a part of the museum’s permanent collection, Nunn said.

An object is first reviewed by the museum director and curatorial staff. It is then presented to the NHCC Art Museum’s Collections Committee, which is composed of art experts, collectors, and artists from throughout New Mexico.

When an object is approved by the committee, Nunn presents the piece at the NHCC Board of Directors Meeting for Board approval.

Only upon the Board’s approval does the object become a part of the permanent collection.

“This process ensures that the NHCC Art Museum is the proper home for every object we acquire,” Nunn said. “We felt that giving the public an opportunity to see our special collection is important as these artists live and work in the state.”