By Jennifer Boren
Salt Lake City Local Expert
Visiting a museum is always a unique experience, as each one has its own distinct characteristics, style, and of course, content. Museum subjects vary greatly from city to city, and can range from firefighter's museums to fine art, to sports. If you need help making a selection, our 10Best list highlights the top spots to visit in Albuquerque.
New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
If you like to time travel, visit the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (1801 Mountain Road NW, 505-841-2800). The newly updated museum boasts a new permanent Start Up! Albuquerque and the Personal Computer Revolution. Albuquerque was where the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, was made and sold. This attracted a young Bill Gates and Paul Allen to Albuquerque, who worked here before moving to Seattle and starting a little company called Microsoft. Of course, the museum goes from bytes to bones and features all aspects of New Mexico's natural history, including colossal skeletons of dinosaurs that roamed here. (505-841-2800)
An excellent place for Albuquerque exploration is at the Albuquerque Museum History (2000 Mountain Road NW, 505-243-7255, www.cabq.gov/museum/). In addition to highlighting the Duke City's history from pre-Spanish contact through the Civil War, a permanent art collection contains classic works by such luminaries as Georgia O'Keeffe, as well as changing New Mexico-related exhibits. (505-243-7255)
Turquoise Museum (Zach-Low)
Displays relate the formation process of this gemstone and also chronicle its many uses by Native Americans during prehistoric times. Among the highlights are a simulated mine shaft that features numerous specimens from four continents. Stop by the education center to learn how to discern authentic turquoise from mere plastic. (505-247-8650, 800-821-7443)
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
A vast collection of exhibits, performances, and information on Native American culture in general and the Pueblo Indians in particular. Weekend performances of Native American dances, arts and crafts demonstrations, and many year-round special events are free to the public. The gift shop features an excellent selection of fine pottery, painting, sculpture, and weaving. A children's museum, bookstore and a restaurant are also on-site. (505-843-7270, 866-855-7902)
Maxwell Museum of Anthropology
More than 10 million individual items from all parts of the world. Items include archaeological, ethnological, archival, photo and skeletal materials. Exhibits feature topics from the contemporary Southwest, the Americas and beyond. Research collections are accessible by appointment, which should be made well in advance. (505-277-4405)
University of New Mexico Art Museum
New Mexico's largest collection of fine art includes works from seminal artists such as Rembrandt, Picasso and O'Keeffe. Other exhibits include photographs and prints. Regularly scheduled guided tours, lectures, and symposia. (505-277-4001)
National Museum of Nuclear Science & History
The museum highlights the history of atomic energy, from its discovery to Los Alamos's Manhattan Project and atomic weapons to peaceful uses for atomic energy such as nuclear medicine. A B-52 bomber and other aircraft are displayed on the grounds. (505-245-2137)
Just across from the Albuquerque Museum is ¡Explora!, an interactive, science-based children's museum for kids of all ages. Learn about water dynamics, aviation, electronics, robots, physics and light through a variety of interactive exhibits that adults will enjoy as much as kids. (505-224-8300)
Over 40 years of carving and collecting have produced Ross J. Ward's Tinkertown. The folk art museum began with two main attractions: a carved wooden miniature three-ring circus that Ward created as a teenager, and a diminutive turn-of-the-century Western town he created in the 1960s. Today, those original animated displays are housed in a 22-room building, the walls of which are constructed with over 50,000 glass bottles. A variety of Ward's other collections are also on display -- from wedding cake couples to Western memorabilia to a 35-foot antique sailboat. Don't miss the gift shop -- it's jam-packed with all sorts of wacky, wonderful stuff, and they ship worldwide! (505-281-5233)
American International Rattlesnake Museum
An albino western diamondback is among the rare specimens at this unique museum. Educational video provides insightful information about these enigmatic creatures. For example, the snake can't hear it's own rattle, and the human fatality rate from rattlesnake bites is less than one percent. (505-242-6569)
About Jennifer Boren
A native of Oklahoma, by way of New Mexico and now Utah, Jennifer Boren makes her home in Salt Lake City. A total lover of Park City, she spends many weekends there, especially in the summer for all the outdoor activities. A thrill this past summer was seeing the cyclists in the Tour of Utah cross the finish line right on the historic Main Street. A former professional ballet dancer, she now teaches at the University of Utah and another local studio and enjoys seeing Ballet West performances. Her son is also a professional dancer.
Read more about Jennifer Boren here.