Mary Cabot Wheelwright, an adventurous East Coast heiress, made her way in the early 1920s to New Mexico, where she met a Navajo medicine man named Hastiin Klah. Together they devised the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian
(704 Camino Lejo, 505/982-4636, www.wheelwright.org, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 1–5 p.m. Sun., free), which opened in 1937 as the House of Navajo Religion. The mission has since been broadened to incorporate all Native American cultures, with exhibits of new work by individual artists rotating every few months.
The building—modeled after the typical Navajo hogan, with huge viga timbers supporting the eight-sided structure—has two levels: the ground-floor exhibition space and the basement gift shop, really a re-creation of a 19th-century trading post. The shop would feel like a tourist trap if it weren’t for the authentically creaky wood floors and the beautiful antique jewelry on display in the overcrowded cases.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition