New Route 66 museum to be built in Los Lunas

New Mexico News

A new Route 66 museum is going to be built — but in Los Lunas? You might think that is not on Route 66, but it used to be.

KRQE News 13 asked the village what’s behind this.

“We’ve been doing a number of exhibits that were based on Route 66 and the businesses that were in the area,” said Cynthia Shetter, director of the city’s Museum of Heritage and Arts.

They want to build a new museum to showcase all of the 1930s artifacts, photos, and stories from when Route 66 passed through Los Lunas.

“We want to give everyone a sense of time and place,” said Shetter. “This was a historic place on the map.”

New Mexico 6, which runs through the heart of the village, was part of Route 66 during the Great Depression. The road was rerouted in 1937 leaving behind Los Lunas.

However, it still attracts many tourists from around the world.

“They’re very interested in this sort of forgotten segment of Route 66 because Central Avenue, of course, is Route 66, but that’s after it was rerouted,” said museum specialist Troy Aimsworth.

The village purchased a one-acre property off NM-6 next to the Luna Mansion for $350,000 in 2015 as the site for the new museum.

Two historic homes at the site will remain, but a new building is being designed with the help of UNM’s School of Planning and Architecture.

“We’re going to work very closely with the students to do some site planning; some ideas with how the layout of the building will be,” said the village’s Special Projects Planner Erin Callahan.

It’s an effort to preserve the legacy of the people and businesses along the historic route.

The village recently got a $25,000 grant for the project from the National Endowment for the Arts. Callahan says the village is matching that grant with public funds.

So far, no budget has been set for the new museum. Callahan says the planning and design phase will continue throughout 2019. 

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