How does a museum acquire its collections? Are they purchased or donated? Where is everything stored, and how are things maintained? Why does the New Mexico History Museum have objects and photographs from faraway places? Looking Back: Reflecting on Collections explores these questions and many more as we delve into our museum’s collecting history since the late 19th century. We invite you to view more than 300 intriguing photographs, documents, and objects from the New Mexico History Museum’s collections and explore the backstories and challenges of maintaining thousands of objects and millions of photographs.
From the earliest objects acquired at the Palace of the Governors to souvenirs of the Southwest, and from archaeological digs in Latin America to our vast holdings of contemporary fine art photography, we ask the public to consider what it means to collect in the 21st century. Looking Back challenges the viewer to consider questions regarding ethical collecting practices, repatriation of culturally sensitive objects, and other issues that many museums currently face.