A new exhibit, “Honesty of Construction: The WPA and Spanish Colonia Style Furniture,” will open Nov. 29 at the Branigan Cultural Center, 501 N. Main St.
The exhibit examines the Works Progress Administration-era vocational training program in New Mexico that drew upon Spanish Colonial furniture to teach young men and women a marketable trade in woodworking. The exhibit runs through the summer of 2023.
Drawing from the University Museum collection at New Mexico State University, the exhibit features a wide range of furniture pieces that were made during a 1930s community vocational training program that was established in Las Cruces at the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts, now New Mexico State University.
The furniture was made in the Spanish Colonial style that is characterized by using Ponderosa pine, mortise and tenon joinery, rounded edges, and decorative embellishments. The furniture on exhibit includes a bench, chairs, bookcase, tables, desk, jewelry box, and a trasteros (cupboard).
An examination of the cultural changes and economic stresses in New Mexico during the early 20th century provide context for the economic need for craft-based vocational training. The exhibit also presents information about the 1930s federal WPA work relief programs and the National Youth Administration that led to the production of the furniture.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. There is no admission charge.
The museum is accessible from RoadRUNNER Transit Route 1, Stop 1. For information, visit the Museum System website at www.lascruces.gov/museums or call 575/541-2154.