Last week I shared a little about the town of Deming,New Mexico but I had so much to say about the Mimbres Museum in Deming that it needed its own post.
However, before I share about the Mimbres Museum, one thing I didn’t talk about last week was the climate of Deming. During the months I was there, it wasn’t as warm as I expected. In fact, one day it snowed. Deming, like the other places I’d hoped to visit while in New Mexico, is in the mountains. Deming’s elevation is over 4,300 feet which explains the morning chill.
But it was the wind I found most surprising about the weather. Now, I’m no stranger to wind at high elevation. You’ve heard of the Wyoming wind? I grew up in the Wyoming wind in a high elevation town.
Wind makes temperatures feel colder than it is. On an already cold day, wind can feel like it goes right through you. And Deming was like that. Not every day. Maybe not even most days. But, still, a lot of days.
I spoke to a long-term resident who told me to leave by April or risk experiencing wind. I said something about all the wind we already experience. He said it was nothing compared to what was to come.
Mental note: don’t be in Deming in the spring because of wind or summer because of heat.
But I digress. The topic today is about a most wonderful museum in the humble little town of Deming.
Deming Luna Mimbres Museum
Okay, so I love small local museums. More so than the fancy big well-funded ones. Many of those are run by local historical societies. For example, I talked about how much I enjoyed talking local history with a historical society member during a visit to Old Jail Museum in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. In the 30,000 miles I’ve traveled in RV life, I’ve visited many museums run by historical societies.
So, when I tell you that the Deming Luna Mimbres Museum was amazing, I know what I’m talking about. It’s operated by Luna County Historical Society and is, by far, the best historical society museum I’ve visited. If you get to Deming, you simply must go. Best of all: it’s free. Of course, like most places that offer free admission, they appreciate donations and purchases in their gift shop.
What makes this museum great? For starters, the size. It’s housed in Deming’s former armory (20,000 square feet) which was completed in 1916, two months after the Pancho Villa raid which I talked about last week and purchased by the Luna County Historical Society in 1977. The volunteer who oriented me pointed out the room, now the doll room, that was once the armory’s shooting range. The museum has two big floors.
The organization and well thought-out displays also makes the museum great. No doubt, having adequate space helps them accomplish this. Most historical society museums have way more stuff than they have room for. Not to mention, they get so many random and diverse donations that it can be a challenge to create cohesive displays. Not this place.
Some of the individual sections include a gem and mineral room, an art gallery, a Hispanic room, a cowboy exhibit, a quilt and lace room, a military room and a Mimbres pottery room.
My Favorite Part of the Mimbres Museum
Like with all museums, no matter how good they are, there are sections I go though at lightning speed. Either the topic or their exhibits don’t speak to me. And that was true for this museum as well. The pottery and military stuff weren’t really my cup of tea though I did walk through because you never know what might catch your eye.
However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, I found a large exhibit I just loved. I thought the layout was creative and I enjoyed exploring it very much. If I could change anything it would be not having so much of it behind glass. Though, obviously, I understand why it is.
My favorite area was called Main Street. It mimicked a walk down any small town’s main street back in the day (no specific period). Donated items at each “store” came from local residents. You walk down Main Street and peer into a dentist shop, a beauty parlor, mechanic store, a grocery store and others. You can walk through the ticket office at the railroad station. All along your walk down Main Street, you’ll pass antique automobiles, including early fire trucks.
Main Street Photos
Other Things I Loved in the Museum
Old Customs House
Across the street from the Mimbres Museum is the Old Customs House. I’m not sure why but they have different hours from the museum so I had to make a second trip back to get a peek inside the Old Customs House.
The Old Customs House is thought to be the oldest house in the area having been built prior to 1848. In 1882 Judge Seaman Field and his family arrived in Deming. He bought the property and built his house around the original adobe structure. Small additions to the house were built in 1902, 1908 and 1930.
President Grover Cleveland appointed Judge Field the Collector of Customs in 1888. He served in that capacity for a decade until the port of entry moved closer to the US-Mexico border. Additionally, Judge Field served as Deming’s first mayor, 1902-1907.
The city of Deming purchased the property in 1994 and gave it to the Luna County Historical Society. After an extensive renovation, it opened for tours the following year. Prior to the Gadsden Purchase (which I talked about last week in the history of the area), Deming was the port of entry for those crossing the border.
You can walk through various rooms of the house including Judge Field’s office where you can view some of the old customs records. The most common items coming into the US were cattle, mules, chickens and goats as well as other staples.
I liked the kitchen a lot. It was my favorite room at the Customs House though the parlor, where you come into upon entering the house, is also lovely.
Next week, I’ll tell you all about my adventures outside of Deming including a ghost town named after the world’s most famous English bard.
Links to Posts Referenced Above:
- Deming, New Mexico
- Middle Tennessee
- Northwest Carriage Museum
- Learning the Language of Hatch Chile Peppers
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