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Online Exhibits

New Mexico Chile wars poster

2019 Chile Wars

In July of 2019, following the decision by Whole Foods Market to sell green chiles grown in Pueblo Colorado, instead of chiles from New Mexico, Jared Polis, the governor of Co., set off a war of words with Michelle Lujan Grisham, governor of NM, regarding which state grows superior chiles.  This in turn has been inspiring memes on social media taking up the cause.

In addition to having some fun and coming up with our own meme, the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology wanted to wade into this fracas in order to observe the anthropological themes at play (e.g. community identity, commerce, social media, etc.) as well as to highlight the research of UNM Anthropology PhD candidate Holly Brause, who has been studying the chile in southern NM and Chihuahua for the last 5 years.

In Brause’s words: Nothing unites New Mexicans quite like our love of chile. In both its fresh green and dried red forms, New Mexican chile is an integral part of New Mexican cuisine, and a powerful symbol of New Mexican heritage and identity. Despite its cultural importance, the actual New Mexico chile industry has been losing ground (in acres planted) to Mexico since the passage of NAFTA, and increasingly, to other chile producing countries around the world. To add insult to injury, now Colorado boasts that Pueblo chile is superior to New Mexican chile. To combat such an audacious claim from our northern neighbor, in 2017 the New Mexican legislature added an emergency clause to a bill that created a new license plate that proudly proclaims New Mexico to be “The Chile Capital of the World,” after rumors circulated that Colorado was planning to release their own chile plates. Even while New Mexican chile producers continue their struggle to find a way to compete in a globalized marketplace, New Mexicans passionately defend the superiority of their beloved heritage crop against competitors and detractors, both foreign and domestic.


Our meme features the endangered Mexican Wolf, or Lobo, indigenous to the region that is now New Mexico, and mascot for the University of New Mexico.

Chin Charley Hop Kee, Chloride Laundry Man, 1900 - 1919

Chin Charley Hop Kee, Chloride Laundry Man (listed as Sam Kee in Hillsboro directory), 1900 - 1919
Glass plate negative, by Henry A. Schmidt

Chinese Americans in New Mexico

Chinese immigrants first came to New Mexico in in large numbers in the 1800s looking for jobs, particularly building railroads and mining. Because of harsh laws, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and other discrimination, the “first wave” of immigrants were unable to create lasting communities in New Mexico.  In the early 1900s, a small but permanent Chinese-American community took root in New Mexico, which later came to include refugees from the Communist takeover of mainland China, along with immigrants from Taiwan. New Mexico’s Chinese Americans are proud to be U.S. citizens, but also remember their ancient heritage.

“Throwing Down the Ladder by Which They Rose,” by Thomas Nast, 1870

“Throwing Down the Ladder by Which They Rose,” by Thomas Nast, 1870

The exhibition, which was on view in the museum from February 2016 – January 2017, recounts the story of Chinese immigrants and Chinese American communities in New Mexico through photographs, documents and family heirlooms. The video available through the link below is an encapsulation of the exhibition, and a brief tour through this important but little known history and cultural aspect of New Mexico.


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China Then and Now

Ceramics as a path to Chinese history and culture
Today, China looms large in America's field of vision. China's growing role in the world economy and world affairs is impossible to ignore. Through this online exhibit we hope to help New Mexicans (and others) gain an understanding of a civilization that, one way or another, increasingly affects their lives.
One way to understand China's present is to look at its past. In this exhibit we use Chinese ceramics as a path to a better understanding of Chinese culture, both ancient and modern. Many of the pieces you'll see online will be displayed in a gallery exhibit at the Maxwell Museum, between April 8, 2016 and September 2017. Almost all of the pieces come from a collection assembled by Albuquerque artist Eason Eige.

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picture of a red chile ristra

Heritage New Mexico

Identity, culture and biology in New Mexicans of Spanish-speaking descent
Nearly half of all New Mexicans have Spanish-speaking ancestors. Some of these ancestors came to the region long before it became a US State. Others came more recently from Latin America and other places around the globe.
As a result of this rich history, many New Mexicans of Spanish-speaking descent (NMS) use terms like Spanish, Hispanic, Chicano/a, Latino/a and Mexican to describe themselves and others. This website presents results from a research project that looks at how continental ancestry, health, education and other social factors map onto these self-descriptions.

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The Testimony of Hands

An Online Exploration of the Archaeology Collections at the Maxwell Museum
The Testimony of Hands highlights the archaeology collections at the Maxwell Museum. These objects live in storage, where few members of the public are able to see them. This online exhibit makes it possible for people in New Mexico (and around the world) to see and learn about cultural treasures held in trust for them.
One important difference between Hands and any previous Maxwell Museum exhibit is our wish to involve you in the creative process. Do you have a question about a particular object, or would you like to see it from a different angle? Or do you know something about that type of object and if so, are you willing to share your knowledge with other online visitors? For that matter, do you know a web page out there we can link to, to expand on the content provided here? Don't let these questions limit you, however—we're open to any ideas you have about improving this exhibit. You can uses the User Feedback Page to provide input.  We will acknowledge your help. Please be part of the creative process!

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