Harwood Museum, located at 238 Ledoux Street in Taos.
When Burt (1857–1922) and wife Elizabeth (1867–1938) Harwood moved to Taos in 1916, they left their home in France where Burt was an artist and photographer. Burt suffered from tuberculosis, and perhaps the dry desert air of Taos is what attracted him here. The Harwoods purchased a property on Ledoux Street which contained several adobe buildings. Over the next two years Burt redesigned, remodeled and added to the complex, creating “El Pueblito” or the “little village” whose design was strongly influenced by Taos Pueblo.
The complex soon became known in Taos as simply “The Harwood. Art exhibitions were held there as early as 1924, and the tradition continues to this day. In 1926, Elizabeth started loaning out books from her private collection because Taos had no public library at the time. Mabel Dodge Luhan supported the nascent Harwood library by donating her own books and money. The Taos library remained at the Harwood until 1996, when the town finally opened its own public library in a building constructed just west of Town Hall.
In 1923, a year after
Burt’s death, Elizabeth formed the Harwood Foundation as a private nonprofit
organization. In 1935 Elizabeth transferred ownership of the property to the
University of New Mexico, which stills owns it today. The governing board of
the Harwood reports directly to the Board of Regents of the University of New
Mexico. In 1937, UNM and the federal Works Projects Administration worked
together to expand and renovate the Harwood. Famed Southwestern architect John
Gaw Meem designed the expansion
including an auditorium, stage, library facility, and exhibition space. Meem also designed the First Presbyterian Church in Taos.
Taos First Presbyterian Church designed by John Gaw Meem.
The Harwood Museum has
always emphasized its collection of Taos art, including major works by members
of the Taos Society of Artists. The Taos Society of Artists was formed in July, 1915 to promote the works of its members: Ernest Blumenschein, Burt Geer Phillips, Joseph Henry Sharp, Oscar Berninghaus, E. Irving Couse, and W. Herbert (Buck) Dunton. These artists had moved to Taos enthralled by its natural beauty, light, and availability of Taos Pueblo Indians as models. In 2016 the Harwood mounted a major exhibition titled
“Mabel Dodge Luhan and Company” which followed Mabel’s career and her influence
in bringing artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Hopper, and photographer Ansel Adams to Taos. Since 1945, the Harwood Museum has also
represented new trends in American art, such as the work of Agnes Martin. The
Museum’s vision statement reflects this duality: “The Harwood Museum of Art
brings Taos arts to the world and world arts to Taos.”
(This article has been excerpted from Mike Butler's book Taos: A Pictorial Guide For Travelers) https://www.amazon.com/Pictorial-Guide-Travelers-Michael-Butler/dp/1632932644/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Taos+A+Pictorial+Guide+For+Travelers&qid=1616091166&s=books&sr=1-1