Paul Peralta-Ramos, the late son of Millicent Rogers, founded the Millicent Rogers Museum in 1956 as a posthumous gift from his mother, for the people of Taos. Millicent Rogers was an heiress to wealth from Standard oil who moved to Taos in 1947 after a tumultuous relationship with the movie star Clark Gable. According to museum press materials, Rogers was passionate about Hispanic and Native American communities in Northern New Mexico. Today, her legacy remains in the museum that bears her name.
According to MRM Executive Director Dr. Caroline Jean Fernald, Peralta-Ramos “could have picked any location, we don’t have the traffic or tourism of larger cities. However, his mother instilled in him an appreciation for Southwest culture and arts, and a profound respect for the Taos Pueblo and the people of Taos.”
Peralta-Ramos dedicated much of his life to building the museum’s extraordinary collection of more than 7,000 objects and documenting the arts and cultures of the Southwest. Fernald said the museum’s Holiday Fiesta, planned Saturday (Dec. 2) from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., will mark the event’s 20th year. The celebration reflects the museum’s mission to provide activities that embrace the area’s tricultural community, and its aim to share and celebrate the arts and cultures of the Southwest with everyone. The museum also aligns itself with Peralta-Ramos’s passion and legacy for giving back to a town his family and his mother loved.
This year’s Holiday Fiesta will feature face-painting, holiday crafts, appearances by the Taos Fiesta Court, and student music and dance performances by Mariachi Jaguar Encantado at 11 a.m., Taos Suzuki Violin School at noon, Los Niños Bailadores at 1 p.m., and the Taos Youth Ballet at 2 p.m.
Families will have a chance to make their own Christmas cards and ornaments, as well. The museum will have supplies on hand for children and families to create retablos, which are small oil paintings used to honor Catholic Saints. This year a room has been dedicated for fiesta participants to learn about Hanukkah through fun activities. Dr. Fernald said multiple events are scheduled so people can come to the museum and not be overwhelmed with crowds.
Fernald also emphasized the importance of children and families having positive exposure to the museum at an early age. “Sometimes we have local children recognize their relatives’ work here, this experience can inspire young people to pursue a career in art; the museum shows them anything is possible. Museums don’t have to be a boring experience” She said the balance between commercial viability and the museum’s mission as a nonprofit is always a challenge. Local businesses are very generous providing support with supplies as well as private donations, according to Fernald. For example, she said this year Ace Hardware in Taos donated all the wood pieces for the do it yourself retablos project.
Santa Claus will be onsite from noon to 2 p.m. for photos. In addition to the Holiday Fiesta, the museum’s permanent collection and special exhibits will be on view during the event. The museum’s current special exhibits include “Picturing Home: Plants and Animals of the Southwest,” “Corn: Sacred Giver of Life,” “Feast Days: A Cycle of Faith,” “La Familia: Legendary Families” and the “Legacy of the Millicent Rogers Museum,” and “To Honor Millicent.”
For visitors looking to start their holiday shopping, the Museum Store will feature a variety of Southwest gifts, which include: Pueblo nativity sets, handmade ornaments, earrings, holiday cards, 2018 calendars and more. The store always maintains a selection of vintage and contemporary Southwest jewelry, Pueblo pottery, Navajo textiles, and an assortment of items similar to works on view in the museum’s galleries.
The Millicent Rogers Museum, located at 1504 Millicent Rogers Road northwest of El Prado, is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday from November to March and is open daily from April to October. In line with the museum’s mission to support the local community, admission is always free to Taos County residents with ID, and $5 for New Mexico residents.
Access to the 20th annual Holiday Fiesta is offered for free to everyone who would like to attend as a gift from the museum.
Visit millicentrogers.org or call (575) 758-2462 for more information about the museum, events, holiday closures, and exhibits.