The Taos Municipal Schools Historic Art Collection
Regina Tatum Cooke, former Taos teacher and author, delighted in telling the story of how the Taos Municipal Schools Historic Art Collection came to be. Regina had invited members of the Taos art community to exhibit works in the high school auditorium in 1948. Superintendent Joe Otero, local P.T.A. President Dorothy Brandenburg, and many artists were pleased and eagerly seized on the idea.
The collection strengthened through the further efforts of Alice Kinsinger (Taos' first public school art teacher) and the generosity of the artists of our community. It eventually grew to one hundred pieces, forming a significant and valuable body of work.
The initial concept of hanging original works in the classrooms proved impractical, and the collection has survived many adventures and misadventures throughout the years. A partial showing was presented at the Stables Art Gallery in 1965, and again at the old Taos Municipal Schools Administration Building in 1982. The first exhibition of the entire collection, entitled The Fire House Collection Presents: The Taos Municipal Schools Collection took place in 1986. Later, in 1990, the Millicent Rogers Museum exhibited a selected group of work.
The collection received wide-spread coverage in The Taos News in 1975, when a number of the donated pieces were to be sold to pay for school bleachers. Because this collection was created with the intention of being a cultural trust for Taos' youth, the proposal to sell the works triggered tremendous community protest. As a result, they were never sold
A new chapter in the life of the collection began in 2000, with the forming of the Taos Municipal Schools Historic Art Collection Committee. The collection was carefully stewarded under the direction of Lynn DelMargo and other committee members.
In 2012 Taos Municipal Schools reached a long-term loan agreement with the Harwood Museum of Art, resulting in the physical transfer of the collection to the Harwood's state-of-the-art collection storage facility. Although Taos Municipal Schools retains full ownership of and rights to the collection, the collection is now stored safely at the Harwood, fully insured, and available for study by appointment. Selections from the collection are always on view in the museum, and works from the collection are regularly used during the Harwood's Art in the Schools partnership with Enos Garcia Elementary School and other schools throughout Taos County.
Go here for a document providing additional information about the Taos Municipal Schools Historic Art Collection.