Presentations, tours and more on tap at Saturday celebration


FARMINGTON — Even though the Farmington Museum system maintains a sizable presence in the city between its three facilities and the hundreds of events it stages each year, curator Jeffrey Richardson understands there are some local residents who know little to nothing about it.

So while Saturday's celebration at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park, 3041 E. Main St., is billed as the Community Fall Festival and Membership Appreciation Day, the event also is designed to serve as an introduction to the city's museums for those who have never seen what they have to offer.

"This is a day of general appreciation not only for our membership, but for the general public," Richardson said.

MORE: Museum lecture focuses on Billy the Kid, Lincoln County War

Several hours of activities are planned at the museum system's flagship location that showcase its collections and mission, as well as those of the E3 Children's Museum & Science Center, and the Riverside Nature Center. Additionally, the three museum stores will be offering shopping discounts for current, and new and renewing members on all merchandise beginning Saturday and continuing through Nov. 11.

All three museums will be operating activities tables for children, and door prizes from the Great Harvest Bread Company will be awarded to museum members.

If you're not a member of the Farmington Museum Foundation, the museum's nonprofit fundraising arm, Saturday provides a good opportunity to take that step, Richardson said.

"We're going to show how valuable museum membership can be for them and how valuable membership can be for us," he said, explaining that everything that goes on at the three museums is a function of the support the system receives from its members.

One of the bigger advantages of museum membership, he said, is the free admission that members are granted to the larger shows at the Farmington Museum. While most museum exhibitions and activities are free, there is an admission charge for its more prominent shows, including the "Shipwreck! Pirates & Treasure" exhibition that opened on Sept. 30 and remains on display through Feb. 17.

MORE: 'Shipwreck!' show at Farmington Museum dives deep into the past

That membership isn't good for just the properties included in the Farmington system, Richardson pointed out. Reciprocal agreements the city has signed with other organizations entitle Farmington Museum Foundation members to free admission to more than 1,000 other museums nationwide, several of which are located in New Mexico and are within a half-day's drive.

That list includes the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, the University of New Mexico Art Museum, the Harwood Museum of Art of the University of New Mexico in Taos, and nine museums in Santa Fe, including the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, the Museum of International Folk Art, the New Mexico Museum of Art, the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts and the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors.

Richardson said he has heard from museum foundation members who have told him that their annual membership fee paid for itself with a single visit to an out-of-state museum on a family vacation.

Saturday's offerings include behind-the-scenes tours led by the museum's Lizz Ricci.

"She'll be taking visitors to areas that are normally off limits," Richardson said, explaining that Ricci will be offering a realistic portrayal of the role a museum fills in a community and how it operates.

Museum director Bart Wilsey will be selecting some of his favorite items from the museum's collections — the vast majority of which are in storage and are not on permanent display — and discussing their significance.

"There will be some items that maybe people haven't seen in a while," Richardson said. "This lets them know the role the museum plays in caring for these items in perpetuity."

At 11:30 a.m., film historian and author Jeff Berg will deliver his presentation "Movies Made in New Mexico," which focuses on the long history of filmmaking in the state. At 1 p.m., Jane Voss and Hoyle Osborne will deliver "I Want to Be Bad: The Flapper & Her Song," a presentation that is part lecture, part musical performance focusing on the music of the 1920s.

And at 2:30, Richardson — an antique firearms expert who has written several books on the subject — will deliver his "Colt Peacemaker" presentation focusing on the signature firearm of the American West.

"It's still a symbol known around the world," he said.

The first Colt Peacemaker was manufactured in 1873 and quickly became the gold standard, Richardson said.

"The gun was used by good guys, bad guys and the American military," he said. "It was ubiquitous on the frontier."

It also later became a staple of Hollywood westerns, and that has allowed it to retain its popularity into the 21st century, Richardson said.

"It is manufactured and sold today," he said. "You can buy one that is almost exactly the same firearm that would have been produced over 100 years ago."

Activities are planned from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, and the museum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 505-599-1174.

Mike Easterling is the night editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.

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