The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) is nestled in the heart of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was established in 1976 as a way to showcase the art, traditions, and foods of Pueblo People while providing support and resources to local tribes. Native American culture is tightly interwoven in the New Mexican landscape, so the center is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to get a true feel for the Land of Enchantment.
The center is a collaboration of the state’s 19 Pueblo tribes, which means a visit here is bound to be an enriching, educational, and wildly colorful experience—one that you won’t soon forget.
The History Behind the Center
The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is a true collaboration of New Mexico’s 19 Pueblos, the tribal governors, and the people. The vision for the center was born from a need to showcase the state’s Native American culture through artwork, cuisine, dance, and architecture. The center opened its doors on August 28, 1976, finally bringing this vision to life through the work of the state’s tribal councils.
The semi-circular design for the center was modeled after Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon, one of the Pueblo people’s greatest architectural achievements and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Though the center has undergone a series of renovations and extensions since its opening, there is one permanent exhibit on display called "We Are of This Place, The Pueblo Story." Today, the center stands as a true representation of Native American culture and serves as a leading artistic institution, a vital educational resource for locals and visitors alike, and a gathering place for Southwestern tribes.
What to See
The IPCC is filled with Native American relics and artwork and serves to support Native American artists, as well as the cultural, social, educational, and economic needs of their communities. The museum’s ever-changing exhibits are one of its main attractions, but that’s just the beginning.
For starters, the center showcases traditional Native dances every weekend. Pueblo communities have long celebrated the changing seasons, harvests, momentous occasions, ceremonies, and more through song and dance. These dances connect Native people to their roots while honoring their natural surroundings. You can witness these dances from the 19 Pueblos year round at the center.
To view authentic examples of Native American artwork, visit the Artists Circle Gallery. The gallery opened in 2016 as part of the center’s 40th anniversary celebration and features the work of local New Mexican artists in true Pueblo tradition. The featured exhibit is constantly rotating, and draws from the past while providing inspiration for the future.
While contemporary artwork is a large part of Native culture, the center also boasts a large collection of relics from the past. The museum houses more than 2,500 articles of pottery, jewelry, textiles, baskets, photos, prints, paintings, and other artifacts–each of which allows for a glimpse into Pueblo culture. While you are traveling from exhibit to exhibit, keep an eye out for the more than 20 larger-than-life murals that adorn the center’s walls and were created by local Pueblo artists.
What to Do
Although educational exhibits are at the center of the center’s mission, the IPCC overcomes the limitations of a traditional museum by incorporating exciting interactive elements, cooking classes, and thrilling traditional dance performances. Part of what makes the center so unique and wonderful is the countless ways to truly experience the culture!
The Resilience Garden, for instance, is a wonderful way to "get your hands dirty." Here, the center incorporates traditional Pueblo farming techniques to cultivate endangered crops. You are invited to walk through the gardens and witness the natural beauty or participate in the learning series, Seasons of Growth. This series occurs on the second Sunday of every month and educates participants on indigenous crops and how to nurture heirloom seeds.
Additionally, the IPCC features a number of festive events throughout the year, including cooking classes, a Pueblo film festival, art shows, stories by the fireside, and so much more. We highly recommend catching one of the frybread classes, where you’ll learn for yourself how to bake this Native American delicacy. Check out the full calendar of events here.
Pueblo Harvest Cafe
All of that exploring is bound to have made you hungry, so make sure to refuel with a meal at the Pueblo Harvest Cafe. Located inside the IPCC, the cafe is a full-service restaurant and bakery featuring traditional Native American cuisine with a contemporary twist. The seasonal menus provide a cross-cultural culinary experience, serving Native American meals with influences from around the world. Sit at the bar, in the dining room, or outdoors on the sunny patio, and if you come on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, you might just catch a performance!
Finally, take a piece of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center home with you by shopping artwork and kitchenware from Shumakolowa Native Arts.
The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is a treasured landmark for Native American people, and in just a few short decades has established itself as a must-see destination in Albuquerque. But don’t take our word for it—come experience the magic for yourself!
Originally written by RootsRated for New Mexico.