Programs & Services

Sparking Inspiration

STEAMing Into the Future

What does it take to effect change, to create, innovate, or problem-solve? Aside from modern marketing claims that it could be a breakfast cereal, nutritional supplement, electronic device, or automobile, at the core of all creation is—a spark of inspiration!

The power of creativity and ingenuity is limitless.

A spark of inspiration ignited the first fire, smoothed the edges of the first wheel, and split the first atom to forever change the world. The core idea behind every innovation since the dawn of humankind—good, bad, or indifferent—is testimony to our creativity, ingenuity, and ability to think.

Picking up STEAM

Generating a spark of intellectual inspiration has become part of the mission of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA). DCA acknowledges the importance of creativity and is proud to stimulate intellectual growth, spark inspiration, and foster critical thinking through the wealth of exhibits and programming at New Mexico’s museums and historic sites.

What inspires your creativity? Is it the smell and feel of the Earth, the depth of a clear night sky? Music, dance, food, or fashion? The heat of a welding torch? The whir of a saw? Wafts of cedar wood? Perhaps you draw inspiration from handling clay, twisting metal, or chiseling marble. Or maybe it’s the sight and smells of a palette awash with splashes of color that stimulates your psyche.

A Head of STEAM

When did you last learn something new? Presently, many schools are focusing on STEM education: Science Technology, Engineering, and Math. All the entities under the umbrella of DCA are working hard to change the dialogue about education from STEM to STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math, adding art education to this fascinating equation.

Among the centerpieces of our 2018 STEAM curriculum is the world-class exhibition at Albuquerque’s New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science through July 29, 2018, Da Vinci—The Genius. This blockbuster offers school students and life students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the complex and agile mind of one of the world’s greatest geniuses. Largely self-educated, Leonardo da Vinci possessed insatiable curiosity and tremendous observational skills, and he wielded those gifts to create artworks of extraordinary beauty and hundreds of inventions of every possible type. Da Vinci was an artist, inventor, musician, scientist, and philosopher.

In his book, How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day (Delacourte Press, 1998), Michael Gelb studied da Vinci’s creative process and determined how we can use it ourselves. Gelb outlined the thought processes driving da Vinci’s life into these lessons:

  • Changing the Thinking Pattern
  • Connecting the Unconnected
  • Independent Creative Thinking
  • Observation
  • Uncertainty
  • Creative Imagination vs Logical Thinking

As part of the curriculum associated with Da Vinci—The Genius, the museum presents “Da Vinci Dialogues,” a series illustrating the many facets of da Vinci’s genius as an artist, inventor, and scientist. The program includes a series of lectures, panel discussions, and workshops encouraging interactive dialogue with the audience. For times and events associated with Da Vinci—The Genius, check the calendar in this guide (page 36).


Educational outreach is STEAM-propelled in southern New Mexico. NASA chose Alamogordo’s New Mexico Museum of Space History to host a downlink from the International Space Station in conjunction with the Alamogordo Public Schools and the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The museum’s Rocketeer Academy focuses on the history, science, and technology of space, illuminating the universe to thousands of students each year. Each month, the museum hosts a free Launchpad Lecture Series that features a new speaker on a space-related topic.

This summer, explore the complexities of who we are and how we are understood at Because It’s Time: Unraveling Race and Place in New Mexico, a thought-provoking exhibition at Albuquerque’s National Hispanic Cultural Center. Throughout the year, the center offers a vast array of events and activities, providing a great venue for socializing and celebrating the Hispanic culture. Make sure to check the events calendar (page 36) for regular NHCC events and its website for a host of other entertainment options.


Summer 2018 marks the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of Bosque Redondo and the formation of the Navajo Nation. Between the summer of 1863 and December 1866, approximately 10,500 Navajos began the 400-mile Long Walk to the Bosque Redondo Reservation at Fort Sumner, forced by the U.S. Army in 53 separate marches. It is estimated that more than 1,500 Navajos died on the journey and that another 1,500 died during their four-year exile. This shameful period in American history and the signing of the treaty that put an end to this internment camp will be commemorated June 8–9 at the Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner, an International Site of Conscience.

The issues of authenticity, appropriation, activism, and artistic identity have plagued the Native art and culture community for decades. This year, eight dynamic Santa Fe cultural institutions have joined forces in a collaboration called Project Indigene to examine perspectives and create awareness of the complex problems facing Native art.

Blow off STEAM

In Santa Fe, the New Mexico History Museum’s Atomic Histories exhibition explores the Manhattan Project, the science of radioactivity, the building of Los Alamos, the Trinity Site, and the impact of the nuclear test in nearby Tularosa. Even the Santa Fe Opera gets into the act with the 2018 production of Doctor Atomic, set in the summer of 1945.

The legacy of the atomic bomb is one of two limited-engagement exhibitions at Santa Fe’s New Mexico Museum of Art. Patrick Nagatani: Invented Realities details how the Albuquerque educator and photographer created and captured the images he wanted after educating himself about special effects in Hollywood, then used humor and exaggerated narratives to call attention to social issues. Also, for a limited engagement this summer, the museum’s Frederick Hammersley: To Paint Without Thinking showcases more than five dozen pieces of the abstract artist’s work. While Hammersley is known for his hard-edged paintings of geometric shapes, and Nagatani is known for his elaborate constructions for the camera, both artists used color as a primary tool of expression.

Let off STEAM

Throughout history, clothing has been a statement of both culture and identity. The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces looks at this form of self-expression in a new exhibit Dressed for the Occasion, which explores women’s clothing from the 1870s to 1930s.

The What’s New in New exhibition at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe highlights outstanding contemporary artists and families of talented artists who have honed their craft alongside each other for generations.

Across the courtyard of Santa Fe’s Museum Hill, the Museum of International Folk Art looks at the handiwork of many diverse peoples through the prism of glass beads. Beadwork Adorns the World examines what a collective of beads sewn into a garment or used on an object reveals about the intentions of its makers and users.

Archaeologists, tribal members, and volunteers will work to excavate a site at the Jemez Historic Site, unearthing ancient artifacts during this summer’s Dig Giusewa! event in Jemez Springs.

The notorious history and stories of those who worked at Fort Stanton and those who roamed the once-violent streets of the town of Lincoln can be discovered during a series of After Dark events held on the last weekend of the month. 

Each of our communities has a story, and the New Mexico State Library in Santa Fe is encouraging students to learn those stories during this summer’s music-inspired reading program Libraries Rock! Additionally, creativity and innovation are essential factors for business to succeed. To that end, the library is also fostering the program Libraries as Launchpads, offering computers, Internet, and meeting rooms to help every entrepreneur launch a successful business.

A lifeline for commerce, the Rio Grande was one of the first of eight rivers designated ‘wild and scenic’ by Congress in 1968. This summer, some of our historic sites will host events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Wild and Scenic River Act, and the National Trails System.

On the third Sunday of the month, explore the beauty and bounty of Los Luceros Historic Property in Alcalde. The open houses at Los Luceros are just some of a series of several recurring events this summer. Check out the calendar pages of this guide for more information (page 36).

Whether you participate in one of the regular walking tours or Friday-night music events at the Museum of Art in Santa Fe, get lost inside the pottery room at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, or take a spin on the dance floor at the HAH! Happy Hour at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, delve into da Vinci at the Museum of Natural History & Science, or attend an After Dark events at Fort Stanton or Lincoln, expand your world and get STEAM-y this summer! Dive into New Mexico’s rich cultural history.

Full STEAM Ahead

Generations of humans have met the challenges of the future, steaming full speed ahead, united in discovery through the power of art and creativity. As an organization, the Department of Cultural Affairs acknowledges the importance of creativity and is proud to stoke the fire of intellectual and creative growth by offering this wealth of opportunities for exploring New Mexico this summer.

New Mexico CulturePass

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From Indian treasures to space exploration, world-class folk art to awesome dinosaurs—our museums and monuments celebrate the essence of New Mexico every day.
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The Cultural Atlas of New Mexico leads you to historic and cultural places throughout the Land of Enchantment. Organized by region, proximity and interest, the Cultural Atlas will help you find where you belong.

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Featured DCA Exhibitions

New Mexico Colonial Home – Circa 1815

The Spanish colonial home (la casa) gives visitors an idea of what a home from the time around 1815 would have looked
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Atomic Histories

The Atomic Histories exhibit explores the most famous events, sometimes little known stories, and inventions born here
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Michael Naranjo Touching Beauty Exhibit

On display in the Bataan Building Atrium Gallery: Touching Beauty Now, sculpture by Santa Clara Pueblo’s Michael
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Agnes Pelton : Desert Transcendentalist

A believer in numerology, astrology, and faith healing, Agnes Pelton’s abstract compositions propelled her into
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