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.
The Chimayo Cultural Preservation Association
At a community organizing meeting in the early 1990's, a group of Chimayo residents created a committee whose members believed in the importance of protecting and promoting our historical and cultural legacy. They saw it as one means of dealing with important community issues. Our people are proud of being Chimayosos and that can be used to promote a healthier community.
The CCPA was incorporated as a New Mexico non-profit corporation in 1995 with the following mission statement:
To promote historical research about Chimayo; to preserve and protect historic buildings and properties essential to the cultural heritage of Chimayo; to protect and preserve the historic record; to establish and maintain a "Chimayo History Museum" and an archive relating to Chimayo's history; and to foster community pride and encourage community members to preserve and respect Chimayo's cultural heritage.
Chimayo's renown for flavorful chile, fine weavers and artists, and the healing spirit at the Santuario de Nuestro Senor de Esquipulas gives it a prominent place among the many magical valleys of Northern New Mexico. The cultural roots of these traditions reach deep but few have taken the time to learn about and preserve Chimayo's rich historical past. The Chimayo Cultural Preservation Association is working to change that by building an archive of historical photographs and documents, gathering oral histories, maintaining historic buildings and increasing community awareness of local history and culture. Present and future generations of Chimayosos can use this knowledge to gain strength and wisdom.