Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was born in Wisconsin, rose to fame among early modernist art circles in New York City, and traveled widely across the globe during her 98 years of life. Yet her artistic legacy is forever tied to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where O’Keeffe settled in 1949 and remained until her death. The celebrated artist’s connection to the city is such that a visit to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is a must-do for any visitor, even those who don’t typically frequent art galleries.
The museum’s main campus in Santa Fe is just steps from the historic Plaza, a hub of remarkable cultural and historic monuments. The galleries are inside a one-story building with nine thematic rooms, all set around an outdoor patio. It’s a soothing space designed purposefully around O’Keeffe’s works, tracing the chronology of her life and career. Exhibits rotate to showcase selections from a collection of 3,000-plus oil paintings, drawings, pastels, watercolors and personal paraphernalia.
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Visitors can expect to see many examples of O’Keeffe’s most famous subjects – large-scale, abstract botanicals, and sun-bleached animal skulls evoking the bleak beauty of the southwest. Along with such highlights, you’ll gain a wider perspective on O’Keeffe’s life and body of work. Whether the subject is a New York City skyscraper, jewel-toned whorls gleaned from a murky pond, or the delicate folds of a petal, the artist communicates a unique vision. Her most profound talent was in depicting colors and lines that could so easily go unnoticed, and evoking a sense of place even in the abstract.
A thorough visit to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum takes just an hour or two, yet the experience evokes deep and peaceful contemplation of the unpolished beauty in the world. You’ll step back out into the heart of Santa Fe fully understanding why O’Keeffe made the place her muse.
Tickets to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
Tickets to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum’s main campus are limited, so you need to make reservations online in advance. The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm Thursdays through Mondays. Book as far ahead of time as you can to get a preferred time slot, especially if you want to visit on a weekend.
Museum entrance includes a free audio tour via smartphone, so bring headphones if you want to use that feature. Masks are recommended but not required. The museum allows non-flash photography, and you may only bring a small bag inside.
The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum also runs a library and archive in Santa Fe, which is open by reservation. You might also plan a visit to O’Keeffe’s Home and Studio in Abiquiú, 52 miles outside Santa Fe. The Abiquiú properties are open for tours from March to November.
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
217 Johnson Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico