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 four Santa Fe museums—Palace of the Governors/New Mexico History Museum, Museum of International Folk Art, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology, and New Mexico Museum of Art; its six State Monuments—Coronado, Jemez, Fort Selden, Lincoln, Fort Sumner, and El Camino Real International Heritage Center; and the Office of Archaeological Studies, which collects and shares information about prehistoric and historic sites across the state.
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 © 2020 El Palacio Magazine. Published by the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.