The Museum is located in the Plaza del Cerro, one of Chimayo's historic neighborhoods. The Plaza was organized as a fortified community in the second half of the eighteenth century by the Spanish colonial administration of New Mexico. The rectangular Plaza is made up of a contiguous row of adobe buildings. It was designed to protect its residents from attack. It is one of the best surviving examples of a fortified plaza in New Mexico.
The museum building is classic New Mexican adobe home with white-washed mud- plastered interior walls, vigas as supporting ceiling beams and hardened mud floors. The home was remodeled in the late 1960's by David Ortega, descendant of the original owners. In the nineteenth century, it was the home of Jose Ramon Ortega y Vigil and Petra Mestas Ortega, ancestors of the world-renowned Ortega family of Chimayo weavers. The couple raised fourteen children in the building that is now home to exhibits honoring Chimayo's past and present.
The Chimayo Museum is dedicated to educating the public, particularly the young, about the history and culture of Chimayo and its surrounding communities. It also aims to support local writers, musicians, artists and craftspeople who promote our heritage. Partnering with our local schools has always been a priority.
In addition to historic artifacts that have been donated to the Museum by our supporters, on display are vintage photographs that illustrate life in Chimayo in the early twentieth century. Many of these pictures were taken by Prudence Clark, a Presbyterian missionary school teacher who came to Chimayo in 1900.
The Museum also provides a venue for many special events. Its plays host to historians, genealogists, storytellers, poets, musicians, dancers and community advocates. New exhibits and showings are mounted periodically. Through our Los Maestros del Norte program, young students come to the museum to learn traditional New Mexican arts and crafts from Spanish Market artisans.