After months of planning and renovation, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Museum in Albuquerque is ready for prime time.  Celebrating the 40th year of IPCC, the Museum has named the exhibition We Are of This Place.  It celebrates the traditions, culture, and talents of the nineteen New Mexico Pueblos, presenting an honest, educational experience for those of all ages.  Happy Birthday, IPCC, and best wishes for many more to come!

IPCC is busy setting up for their Annual Gala this weekend, including an auction of some incredible works donated by artists of the 19 New Mexico pueblos.  If you are anywhere close to Albuquerque on Saturday evening, this is definitely the place to be.

While we were at IPCC last month, we had a chance to talk with Ira Wilson, the amazing man who heads the Museum Shop, Shumakolowa Native Arts, a go-to place if you want authentic, top quality handmade Native American art.  He had taken us on a back-stage tour during construction in the spring, and proudly showed us the start of the new exhibit area.  Ira had also been gracious enough to be one of the two people who wrote a preface for our first book, Tales of The Dancing Rabbit, and we were quite excited to get his signature on our publisher’s proof copy and give him a copy of the book as well.

When we went into the exhibition area, we immediately noticed that the exhibit area had been lovingly designed and constructed, and the attention to detail was at a very high level.  This is the first reconstruction of the IPCC exhibit area since it was originally built in 1976, and technology and museum display standards have come a long way since then.  Pieces are displayed in a number of innovative ways – some in protective cases, some behind faux walls with observation portals, and all with accompanying descriptions and interpretations.

There were several video areas in which we were able to see Native Americans from different pueblos talk, dance, and share their cultures.  I found the language interactive video area particularly interesting, as there are a number of different languages spoken even today in the Pueblos.  While many priceless items are on display with ample descriptive information, there are also interactive opportunities to learn more about the manner in which these items were a part of the traditional life of the peoples of the Pueblos.

Ira excused himself after a bit, as he had a lot on his plate (he always does), but he returned shortly thereafter to introduce us to Monique Fragua, the Museum Director.  Michael and I chatted with Monique and Ira for a while, and they told us of the efforts that they had made to not only bring the IPCC Museum into the twenty-first century, but to set a platform that could be extended and improved for many years to come.  As happy members of IPCC, we were excited to learn of the future plans, and made plans to return to Albuquerque and IPCC on a more frequent basis.

IPCC continues to hold Native American demonstration dances, art demonstrations, and wonderful seminars on a frequent basis, and I know that we would be there every week if we lived in Albuquerque.  Their outreach is tremendous, as they continue to educate, inspire, and showcase the amazing talents of the Native Americans in the Southwest.  Fortunately, their website is state-of-the-art and loaded with information – even some videos – so Michael and I can get enough interaction with IPCC between physical visits.

Yes, of course, while we were there, we stopped at the IPCC Harvest Café and I had some of superb Chef David Ruiz’ wonderful blue corn onion rings, which are to die for.  Michael went with a tasty bowl of mutton stew, a New Mexico favorite.  If you are in Albuquerque, looking for a great place to have breakfast, lunch, or even dinner, stop in at the Harvest Café and you won’t be disappointed.  Yes, they have happy hour, but candidly whenever I am there, it is my own personal happy hour.  Ever had a pizza fresh baked in an authentic horno?  Ever had a full meal Navajo taco?  Looking for some live music to go with your weekend dinner?  Warning – once you go there, you will want to go back frequently.

We also went across the street to check in at our favorite Starbucks, the IPCC Starbucks.  While at the Starbucks, we met the manager of the store, and she was very excited about the amount of support the community has given the new store.  We are still looking for the Native American replica travel mugs to come out in the near future, and seeing the display of the five incredible originals at the IPCC Starbucks, we know that they will be a huge hit.

When you go to Albuquerque, or even if you are just driving through on I-40 to another destination, get off on the 6th-12th street exit and head a few blocks over to IPCC.  Your first visit will get you hooked, so plan on taking a few hours to enjoy the Museum, the Café, and particularly the Shumakolowa Native Arts shop.  You won’t regret the stop.

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