SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – One of New Mexico’s premiere art museums is getting ready to start work on a second major location, but in the process, a long-time piece of public art will be fading away.
Standing in same the building since 1917, the New Mexico Museum of Art has been a pillar for showcasing contemporary art in the state for generations. The museum is now on its way toward breaking ground on a second facility.
“It’s really exciting,” said Michelle Gallagher Roberts, acting executive director of the New Mexico Museum of Art. “I can see where the new facility is going to be an exciting addition what we already do.”
The museum expects to break ground on the planned “Vladem Contemporary” at the intersection of Montezuma and Guadelupe Street in early 2020. The 12.5-million-dollar building renovation near the Santa Fe Railyards will give the museum some much needed additional space.
“Right now, we have to either make a choice to either display contemporary art in exhibition space, or the early 20th century part of the collection, now we’ll be able to do both,” Gallagher Roberts said.
The new building will also have modernized utilities, added storage space, added classroom and educational space and more showcase space for today’s contemporary art.
“A lot of the artwork that’s being created today is digital, it needs lots of power, it needs internet, it needs space,” said Gallagher Roberts.
As part of the work needed to get the second building open as a new museum, crews will have to decommission the enormous old mural on the side of the building, which is right along Guadalupe Street.
The mural, titled “Multi-cultural” by artist Gilberto Guzman, has been in public view for more than 30 years. While iconic, the museum says the mural is past its expected life span.
“It’s very sad (to see the mural go) and we’re not happy that we’re not able to save this,” Gallagher Roberts said.
The museum says a team of art preservationists looked at the mural and determined it cannot be saved because it is painted directly on crumbling stucco.
“It’s extremely faded, it’s cracked,” said Gallagher Roberts. “What you’re seeing today is not the artist’s vision.”
The museum says it’s working on new public art as a possible component of the future building. Ultimately, they believe the project will mean a lot for New Mexico and the state’s art scene.
“I think (New Mexico will be) definitely proud,” said Gallagher Roberts.
The museum expects to open the “Vladem Contemporary” building in 2021.