One Hundred Years of El Palacio


The February 16, 1925, issue of El Palacio announced: “The New York Public Library . . . which is consulted daily by more than eight thousand persons, is very anxious to complete its file of El Palacio.” A list of missing issues followed. “If any reader has any of these numbers and is willing to part with them so as to help the editor meet this and similar requests, will he kindly mail the copies immediately to the editor?” The Huntington Library in California, the Library of Congress in Washington, and the Library of the Museum of Natural History in New York also sought to complete their collections. After only a dozen years in operation, El Palacio was in demand at major institutions on both coasts, and editor Paul Walter was surely proud to publish these pleas.

We call El Palacio the “oldest continuously published museum magazine in the United States,” which our best research leads us to believe is true (any other contenders for the title are invited to write to us!). Launched in 1913, four years after the Museum of New Mexico was founded and a year after New Mexico achieved statehood, the magazine has chronicled Museum of New Mexico exhibitions and programs and New Mexico history and culture for a century now. To celebrate this anniversary, we revisit some early stories that El Palacio covered and one that it missed. We look back at some El Palacio history, and examine how El Palacio’s perspective on its topics has changed over a century.

Bruce Bernstein reads closely the very first issue of the magazine, discusses why the magazine was founded and what that first issue reveals. Cordelia “Dedie” Snow tells the story of Betty Toulouse, a frequent contributor to El Palacio when she worked at the Laboratory of Anthropology in the mid-twentieth century and whose detailed El Palacio index has been cherished by staff and researchers for decades. Lois Rudnick looks at another early contributor, E. Boyd, who wrote regularly for El Palacio during her many years as a curator and scholar of Spanish Colonial art. Rudnick examines a less well-known period of Boyd’s career, as an artist and organizer of the Rio Grande Painters Group in the 1930s. Rudnick tells a new story about some artists we know well and casts a welcome light on some we would like to know better.

Laura Addison interviews Joe Traugott upon his retirement from the Museum of Art about his years in New Mexico museums, which include both reading and writing for El Palacio (a practice which he has promised to continue). Carmella Padilla looks at early issues of the magazine to see how its understanding of folk art evolved, first through contemplation of Spanish Colonial and Native art and then as the Museum of International Folk Art opened a new world on Museum Hill. Nancy Marie Mithlo analyzes how early issues of the magazine and the early years of the Museum of New Mexico regarded Native art and how the Native position in museums as both creators and curators of art has developed over the past one hundred years.

Eric Blinman and Stephen Post give us a story that never made it into the early El Palacio and is long overdue here, revisiting LA1, Pindi Pueblo, the first registered archaeological site in New Mexico, excavated during the depression. We are glad to be finally giving Pindi its due.

Many of these writers have combed through back issues of El Palacio in researching their stories, and we are happy to announce that now the entire one-hundred-year archive is online and available to anyone to browse, for free. Go to to search one hundred years of the art, history, and culture of the Southwest, and read everything from Santa Fe social notes in the 1920s to the research and reports of major scholars and artists. For the last several years, in partnership with the New Mexico State Library, we have been laboring to get this resource online. Shelley Thompson, Cheryle Mitchell, David Rohr, Monica Villaire-Garcia, Susanne Caro, and Gary Harris all contributed to this effort. We think that Paul Walter would have cheered.