About the Museum
The Millicent Rogers Museum celebrates and shares the arts and cultures of the Southwest
Established as a memorial to Millicent Rogers, whose inspiration, patronage, and collections form the cores of its holdings.
Millicent Rogers (1902-1953) was the granddaughter of Henry Huttleston Rogers, one of the founders of the Standard Oil Company. At her homes in New York, Virginia, Italy and elsewhere, she entertained the great and splendid from American industrialists to European nobility. She was the fashionista of her day.
In her later years, she visited and eventually settled in Taos, New Mexico. Here, she became close friends with many of the founding members of the Taos artist’s colony, including Dorothy Brett.
Due to rheumatic fever as a child, Rogers was often ill and so the high mountain air helped her physically. Sadly, however, she died very young leaving three sons and a collection of jewelry, weavings and art that live on in the museum named for her. A central permanent exhibit in the museum showcases the turquoise and silver jewelry collection assembled by Rogers during her life.
The Millicent Rogers Museum was established in 1956 by her son Paul Peralta-Ramos as a memorial to her memory and to showcase the arts and cultures of the southwest that had so fascinated Rogers. Her son Paul Peralta-Ramos dedicated much of his life to building the extraordinary collection of more than 7,000 objects that document the arts and cultures of the southwest.
His friendship with Maria Martinez, the famed potter of San Ildefonso Pueblo, ultimately led to her family donating what is the largest publicly held collection of Martinez material in the world. This collection encompasses not only Martinez’s professional career as a potter but also includes numerous items relating to her private life, including clothing, jewelry, and papers. That collection is now the centerpiece of a major permanent exhibition on her life and work.
Peralta-Ramos devoted himself to building a premier collection for the museum of Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo arts from the Southwest. This collection includes more than 1,000 pieces of pottery from the prehistoric to the present and represents every major pottery-making center in the region. Having built this collection for the museum, Peralta-Ramos then focused on acquiring the best available examples of Hispanic Santos from the region. Santos are arguably one of the few truly American folk arts. Crafted within familial dynasties, Santos, or saints, were made as part of the traditional Southwestern Roman Catholic religious traditions. The museum’s collection spans from the great master carvers of the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Jose Aragon, Jose Rafael Aragon, Antonio Molleno, and Pedro Fresquis, to the work of contemporary makers such as Victor Goler, Sabanita Lopez Ortiz, and others.
Other significant collections assembled by Paul Peralta-Ramos include Apache baskets, Plains beadwork (many obtained locally and most of which often reflect intertribal trade), katsinas, and Peyote-cult materials. Like his mother, Peralta-Ramos shared an interest in Southwestern textiles. Using Rogers’ collection as a core to build upon, he acquired major weavings representing all four phases of the evolution of the Navajo Chief’s blankets. He also purchased significant, and in many cases unique, examples of Hispanic weavings from the Rio Grande Valley. Scholars now know that Hispanic weavers have been producing fine weavings in this region for more than 400 years. In many cases, the production of these weavings is through an unbroken chain of interconnected families.
Since Peralta-Ramos’ death, the museum has continued to refine and define its collections. In the last several years, this has included major donations of contemporary pottery and jewelry as well as select acquisitions of historic materials to fill in critical gaps.
The museum rotates its collections on a frequent basis through its galleries. The museum is unique in the Southwest because of its intimate exhibit spaces. The museum is housed in a hacienda that was donated by the family of Mr. and Mrs. Claude Anderson. Enlarged over time, including a wing by the famed architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the museum is truly a place to come face to face with the rich and diverse heritage of the cultures of the Southwest.