What is there to see in the Wheelwright Museum?

The Wheelwright Museum (named for Mary Cabot Wheelwright b. 1878– d. 1958, one of the two founders) is recognized as a historic landmark and has been open to the public since 1937. The building of modernist design takes the form of a Navajo hooghan which reflects the importance of Navajo esteemed singer Hastiin Klah (1867-1937) to the founding of the museum. The historic building is the work of architect and furniture designer William Penhallow Henderson (1877-1943) (see history)

Onn our landscaped grounds, you will find works by sculptors Melanie Yazzie (Navajo) and Alan Houser (1914-1994, Chiracahua Apache) and the plaza offers beautiful views. Visitors enter the historic museum building (echoing the Navajo hooghan) through the door facing east.

Inside the museum are permanent and temporary exhibitions of both contemporary and historic Native American art. The Jim and Lauris Phillips Center for the Study of Southwestern Jewelry, our permanent display, is devoted to the art history and contemporary interpretation of the Navajo and Pueblo jewelry traditions of the Southwest. It features more than 700 artworks drawn from our own collection. The display moves from early history of lapidary and silversmithing traditions, to the early 20th-century history of commercialization, key figures of the mid-20th century and contemporary jewelers.

Our large and small temporary exhibition spaces have a changing program of exhibits including thematic shows, featuring historic and contemporary work, and one-person shows of established and emerging contemporary Native artists.

Straddling the two floors is the mural All Together. Making our Way. Every day. Medicine (2020) by Eliza Naranjo Morse (Santa Clara Pueblo) that leads down to the ground floor, which houses the Case Trading Post.

The Case Trading Post was opened in 1975 and echoes historic Navajo trading posts. For many in the know this is a destination, carrying fine vintage, modern and contemporary Native American art bought directly from artists and makers, or sold on consignment.

How can I see what is in the collections or archives?

The Wheelwright Museum is currently working to make its collections and archives available online, at present to make specific inquiries about our collections or archives, please contact: collections@wheelwright.org.

How can I access the collections and archives?

We cannot facilitate access to the collections or archives without an appointment. We ask for 4 weeks advance notice, given that we may be busy with events, exhibitions, or programs. Your inquiry should be made first by email, detailing the purpose of your visit and the resources you wish to access. The appropriate email is: collections@wheelwright.org.

How can I order a photograph from the Museum’s collection?

The Wheelwright Museum is happy to provide digital photographs of its collections and photographic archive, however not all items have existing digital photographs. It will take us 4-6 weeks for a photographic permission request to be processed. The information as to costs of photographic reproduction is here. If you know the photograph you wish to order please fill out the form here and send it to: collections@wheelwright.org.

May I see artworks and belongings linked to Hastiin Klah?

The Wheelwright Museum houses a number of collections linked to the esteemed Navajo singer Hastiin Klah, these are some of our founding collections. Many of these items contain ceremonial knowledge and religious imagery, and as a consequence, they are considered sensitive by Navajo Nation. All researchers and enquirers that seek to access these collections are asked to obtain permission in writing from the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Office stating they can study these items. These items can only be viewed by appointment and this can only be made once permission has been obtained by the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Office. Appointments can be made by emailing: collections@wheelwright.org.

How do I make an appointment with staff?

The Wheelwright Museum operates with a small staff, and therefore it is best to make appointments if you wish to see someone personally, otherwise we cannot guarantee that person will be available. Addresses are listed on the website, however enquiries can be sent to info@wheelwright.org or collections@wheelwright.org. We will make our best efforts to contact you by email to arrange an appointment if we can. Any press inquiries and appointments should be made first to pr@wheelwright.org.

Does the Wheelwright appraise artworks?

Wheelwright Museum staff do not offer identifications, authentications, opinions, or appraisals. Many published sources can help you learn more about your artwork. Websites for auction houses or online auctions can help you learn about value, and several online sources can help you find an appraiser.

How can I book a school group into the Museum?

All school groups should be booked at least 4-6 weeks in advance. As a small museum, we can accommodate large groups only if they are split into groups of 10-12 students. We ask that each group of 10-12 children be accompanied by an adult/teacher. Sometimes we need to work with the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the Museum of International Folk Art to allow for larger groups. Please send your requests to: info@wheelwright.org.

I am a Native American artist. How can I get an exhibition at the Wheelwright?

The Wheelwright Museum has an history of exhibiting established and emerging Native American artists. We are always interested in artists and their artwork, however our exhibition program is planned far in advance. We are always happy to receive your exhibition announcements, press packets, digital images, or links as information. We do not make appointments to review portfolios in person.

I am interested in selling/donating my collection, and wonder if the Wheelwright Museum would be interested?

The Wheelwright Museum has a planned program of acquisitions, and these acquisitions are framed by our collections policy, which prioritizes historic and contemporary artworks from Navajo, Rio Grande Pueblo, and other Native peoples of the Southwest, specifically New Mexico, and important examples of jewelry and other metalwork. While we do not actively collect basketry, textiles or Pueblo pottery, we continue to selectively build on our existing collection, for example within the area of Navajo textiles or figurative works from Cochiti Pueblo. Should you wish to offer or sell your items to the collection, the offer should be sent by letter or email, with attached photographs and relevant histories. Reviews in person are through appointment only. Enquiries can be sent to the attention of Curatorial, Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, P.O. Box 5153, Santa Fe, NM 87502 or to collections@wheelwright.org.

What is the Wheelwright’s Benefit Event?

This event happens every year the week of Santa Fe Indian Market, and features hundreds of one-of-a-kind works for purchase, including Native American jewelry, pottery, textiles, baskets, paintings, folk art, and more. If you have items you would like to give or consign to the museum for this sale, please click here for consignment information and how you can be a part of this event.

Does the Wheelwright have Senior Discounts?

The Wheelwright Museum is an independent non-profit, and generates all its own income, while providing in principle free admission for children under the age of 12 years, Native Americans, students, active military (with ID) and veterans. For all other visitors we have one general admission charge: USD 10.00.

Does the Wheelwright Museum accept the Culture Pass; North American Reciprocal Association Cards; New Mexico Foundation cards?

The Wheelwright Museum is an independent non-profit and does not fall within these schemes.

On Museum Hill those institutions that accept these cards are the Museum of International Folk Art and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.

Does the Wheelwright Museum have a membership or Friends organization?

The Wheelwright Museum does have membership, and this offers a critical way to support the museum’s work. Moreover, membership confers advance notice of events and programs, and qualifies the holder for a small discount at the Case Trading Post. Multiple levels of membership are offered (click here to membership). If you are please contact: info@wheelwright.org or asstdir@wheelwright.org.

The Wheelwright Museum also has a Friends group. The Friends organize their own programs, and provide the volunteers for the museum. Contact: friends@wheelwright.org, or info@wheelwright.org.