El Palacio is the oldest museum magazine of its kind, first published in 1913 by the Museum of New Mexico. This state museum system was created by an act of the territorial legislature in 1909, three years before New Mexico became a state (January 6, 1912). It was established in the Palace of the Governors with the School of American Archaeology (later the School of American Research) alongside the already existing Historical Society of New Mexico. El Palacio (“the palace”) magazine was first published in November 1913—its name refers to the Museum of New Mexico’s first home.
The Museum of New Mexico was eventually reorganized under the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), which was established in April 2003 after Governor Bill Richardson signed legislation elevating the Office of Cultural Affairs to Cabinet-level status.
In the words of one writer, El Palacio “has appeared over the years in numerous manifestations, from its beginning as a thin pamphlet in the teens to a journal that grew from the ‘50s through the ‘80s to a glossy magazine with color art and (gasp!) advertising in the 1990s. These different personalities often reflected the various stewards of the publication”¹
Under DCA’s stewardship, the magazine continues to cover the art, culture, and history of the Southwest as reflected in the exhibits, public programs, and scholarship of the department’s eight museums: the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Museum of International Folk Art, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, the New Mexico History Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Art, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, and the New Mexico Museum of Space History; its eight state historic sites: Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner, Coronado, Fort Selden, Fort Stanton, Jemez, Lincoln, Los Luceros, and the Taylor-Mesilla Historic Property; and its other divisions: New Mexico Arts, the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division, the New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studies, and the New Mexico State Library.
El Palacio—the name endures. Where it once acknowledged the magazine’s first home, the magazine itself has become a royal residence, a “house eminently splendid,”² for the narrative that is New Mexico.
¹ Laura Addison, “That Was Then, This Is It,” Vol. 106 No.1. Read the full article.
² Velázquez, Diccionario de los Idiomas Inglés y Español, 1973, Prentice-Hall.
Copyright © 2022 El Palacio Magazine. Published by the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.