Autry National Center

Photograph of an etching titled PASASE EL BEATO APARIZION A VIVIR A MEXICO Y PASO CONSUS CARRETAS POR LAS PLATAS DE REAL DE ZACATECAS

Photograph of an etching titled PASASE EL BEATO APARIZION A VIVIR A MEXICO Y PASO CONSUS CARRETAS POR LAS PLATAS DE REAL DE ZACATECAS

Collection Spotlight: History and Cultures of Mexico and the Southwest

Introduction

The Autry National Center’s permanent collection of colonial Latin American artifacts includes objects that exemplify the material culture of New Spain's northern frontier or "borderlands." The traditional arts of the borderlands, which developed over generations, reflect regional diversities.

Spanish colonization came in successive waves. With the colonization of New Mexico in 1598, Spanish settlers and missionaries of the Franciscan Order began bringing with them both the sacred and the mundane objects that made up the typical Spanish household, including santos (representations of saints), furniture, ironworks, and tin works. Over time, these materials were produced locally rather than imported, and were adapted to the needs, tastes, and resources of the Southwest.

8 escudo gold coin, New Spain, 1807

8 escudo gold coin, New Spain, 1807 (98.4.5)

In California, the first major migration of colonists came with the 1,200-mile expedition led by Juan Bautista de Anza in 1774 from Tucson, Arizona. The expedition reached Mission San Gabriel Arcángel near Los Angeles on March 22, 1774, and Monterey, California, Alta California’s capital, a month later, on April 19. These settlers, along with the Spanish missionaries and presidio soldiers who preceded them, spread the unique combinations of New Mexican, Mexican, Spanish, and Baja styles and traditions throughout Alta California.

Today, artists in the Southwestern United States can recall and enlarge upon the arts of Spain’s colonial period. Through the ongoing production of traditional Hispanic arts, the West’s Hispanic heritage continues to inform and enrich contemporary society. The following are a few examples of types of Spanish Colonial artifacts that continue to influence and inspire historians, artists and collectors.

Next Page: Los Santos (Bultos and Retablos): California and New Mexico

The Autry National Center seeks to improve and expand our collections of Spanish Colonial (c. 1492 – 1821) materials. Please contact our curatorial department, if you are interested in donating individual pieces or collections of Spanish Colonial materials, Mexican folk art, retablos and santos and more from the Spanish Colonial era.

 

Collection Spotlights

  • The Watercolor Works of Eva Scott Fenyes

    The History of Wells Fargo & Company
    The history of Wells Fargo & Company is inseparable from the history of the American West. The stagecoach and galloping team of six horses—the symbol that is synonymous with Wells Fargo—recalls a time when the stagecoach was the dominant means of long-distance overland transportation and communication.

  • The Watercolor Works of Eva Scott Fenyes

    The Motoring Explorer: Philip Johnston and the American Southwest
    The rise of auto tourism played out in the Auto Club’s member magazine—originally titled Touring Topics before a name change to Westways in 1934—especially in the work of Philip Johnston, the author of 120 articles between 1925 and 1962.

  • The Watercolor Works of Eva Scott Fenyes

    Capturing California’s Romantic Past: The Watercolor Works of Eva Scott Fenyes
    The Braun Research Library Collection houses more than three hundred watercolors of California adobes and California missions created by Eva Scott Fenyes. These works date from 1898 to a week before Mrs. Fenyes’s death in 1930.

  • The Colt Revolver in the American West

    The Colt Revolver in the American West
    The Colt revolver had a dramatic impact around the world, but its greatest influence was in the American West in the second half of the nineteenth century. This online exhibition features slideshows and the stories behind 130 Colt artifacts in the Autry's collection.

  • Spanish Songs of Old California

    Spanish Songs of Old California
    Charles Lummis, founder of Los Angeles's Southwest Museum, dedicated much of his life to preserving cultures that he felt were vanishing. Like a number of Americans at the turn of the twentieth century, Lummis was convinced that Native Americans’ lifeways were on the road to extinction, and that Hispanic cultures in particular were doomed by modernity. Unlike many of his contemporaries, however, Lummis lamented these developments and worked to preserve at least some records of Indian and Hispanic cultures.

  • Opera in the Autry Collections

    Opera in the Autry Collections
    This online exhibition draws on the collections of the Braun Research Library, the Autry Library, and the Autry. Featured items include a rare 1912 recording of French tenor Augustarello Affre recorded in Los Angeles by Charles F. Lummis and the libretto from La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West) with music composed by Giacomo Puccini.

  • New Spain

    History and Cultures of Mexico and the Southwest
    The Autry National Center’s permanent collection of colonial Latin American artifacts includes objects that exemplify the material culture of New Spain's northern frontier or "borderlands." The traditional arts of the borderlands, which developed over generations, reflect regional diversities.

  • More Than a Dream: Aviation Development in Southern California

    More Than a Dream: Aviation Development in Southern California
    This online exhibition is from the collections of the Automobile Club of Southern California Archives.

  • More Than a Dream: Aviation Development in Southern California

    Theo Westenberger:
    A Woman of the West

    In 2010, the Libraries and Archives of the Autry National Center of the American West received a generous gift: the entire photographic work of Theo Westenberger (1950–2008).


Spanish Songs of Old California

This collection spotlight is made possible by a generous grant from Bank of America

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