Goldilocks and the Three Museums

Like New Orleans, I let each of the kids pick out what they wanted to do in Santa Fe.  My younger daughter selected to go to a minor league baseball game, my older daughter selected a cool interactive art museum called Meow Wolf, and my son selected swimming at the hotel.  I picked El Rancho de las Golondrinas, a living history museum; and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. Yes, I selected two things, but I’m driving so that’s that. The three museums were a bit like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. One was underwhelming, one was overwhelming, and the last one was just right.

Museum #1 - El Rancho de las Golondrinas, a living history museum.

We meandered our way outside the city to the first museum. In all fairness, on the El Rancho de las Golondrinas website clearly states, “ …during non-event museum days, you can enjoy a more personal visit with the few docents located throughout the historic buildings & enjoy the beauty of the site.” We were not visiting during one of their festivals so it was pretty empty, we saw maybe two other families visiting while we were there. Things did not start off well. They were late opening, it was HOT, and everyone was cranky, not the best night of sleep for any of us. I had inadvertently left my “marketing” hat somewhere in Texas. Apparently I had forgotten the importance of “selling” a place and as a result, the complaints started early.  I of course was in love with the adobe structures against the blue sky and totally into the experience. The kids could care less. We ventured into a couple of buildings and did learn a bit about weaving and cooking in adobe houses, and what life was like on the ranch in the early 1700s.  You might be surprised to know that my kids didn’t care much for life in the 1700s. We have taken them to Williamsburg which they enjoyed, so I had envisioned the Santa Fe version of Williamsburg. Had we gone when they were hosting one of their festivals, I think the experience would have been more enjoyable.  But at that moment, the place was pretty empty, coupled with the fact that it was incredibly hot outside with no food or beverages available, and on top of it all we were being eaten alive.  Mom bucks weren’t working, food wasn’t working, and the troops were losing it.  A revolt was brewing. Outnumbered, hot, and underwhelmed, I decided to avoid a reenactment of the war for “Richman Kid Independence” - and took the troops back to the hotel for food, AC, and the World Cup.

Museum #2 - Meow Wolf, an immersive art experience

After we were fed, re-energized, and got our fill of the World Cup, we headed to Meow Wolf. Immediately it became clear that this museum would be a hit. First of all, they had a super cool sculpture in front of the building. Secondly, not only was the name of the “museum” written in neon letters, but there were all sorts of neon lights inside the building. Finally, it was air conditioned. Unlikely the living history museum which ironically lacked living beings, Meow Wolf was packed with humans. Your journey begins by stepping into a house. Clues can be found around the house, but after waiting for ten minutes to read one, we decided to start exploring without the clues. Room after room a new sensory experience awaited you - something for each of your senses (except taste…that would not end well). We found secret passageways, stairways, ladders, tons of interactive exhibits and rooms. At times it was overwhelming and over stimulating, but all in all it was a cool experience. Some of our favorite spots were the dinosaur bone xylophone that glowed, the secret passageways, and finding the guy in the bottom of a toilet. Strange but true. Super cool, super overwhelming.

Museum #3 - Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

While batting 500 it was time to push my luck and visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. This was the only thing I had to do while in Santa Fe, and I think the kids understood how much it meant to me. Mentally drained from Meow Wolf, the kids happily settled into their books while I wandered around the museum. Unlike Meow Wolf, this museum was QUIET, peaceful, simple, and absolutely glorious. I am a huge fan of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work - the way she captures flowers in an abstract way is so stunning to me. Her work is minimalist and complex at the same time. Her use of color is extraordinary. Art is such an emotional, personal experience. When a piece of art moves you to the point of tears, or makes you feel something deep down inside - you should buy it. Art should make you feel. For me, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum was one of my highlights. Her work is stunning, and in person it is even more so.

We finished off our time in Santa Fe with a baseball game on a perfect summer evening.

“Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.” - Georgia O’Keeffe, 1976

Next week we visit the amazing Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings found in Mesa Verde National Park in Southern Colorado.