Main Building Exhibits
The Pioneer Room contains information on Aztec’s early families and has photographs of 78 buildings in Aztec now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Telephone Room has antique telephone equipment displayed by the Telephone Pioneers of America. Exhibits and collections of minerals, rocks, fossils and mining tools are found in the Lobato Room. The Indian Room has a small collection of Native American arts and crafts.
The museum’s Historic Barbershop includes turn of the century barber chairs. Other exhibit rooms include collections of clocks and historic clothing. The Agriculture Room has a display of early farming and dairy equipment.
The Atwood Annex contains historical photographs that document the history of the surrounding San Juan Basin’s oil and natural gas industry. The San Juan Basin is one of the largest natural gas fields in the United States. Visitors will also find exhibits of historical machines, tools, home furnishings, and a restored Model TT Ford truck. There are also old toys and dolls displayed.
Pecos West Cyclorama
Valenty Zaharek's "Pecos West" features over 100 hand carved woodcarvings of people, animals, plants, buildings, vehicles and the high mesas and mountains of the desert Southwest. The cyclorama measures eighteen feet in diameter and slowly rotates as old west cowboy music plays in the background.
Valenty Zaharek was born and raised in Crivitz, WI, where he learned his art. A World War II veteran, he contracted polio and moved to Sedona, Arizona in 1951 where he owned and operated Montezuma Arts and Crafts and began construction on "Pecos West". The figures and landscape are carved from pine, redwood, burl oak, and aspen. He first displayed the completed cyclorama at the New Mexico State Fair and at various Navajo Tribal Fairs in the late 1960s. After his death in 1979, the cyclorama was owned by his cousin and then sold or auctioned to other museums.
In 2014 the cyclorama was donated to the Aztec Museum and included all the original carvings and tools used by Mr. Zaharek. The cyclorama exhibit debuted at the Aztec Museum the summer of 2015 in the Atwood Annex. Read the Farmington Daily Times article (PDF) about the opening of the exhibit.
Oil & Gas Exhibit
The historic oil and natural gas equipment exhibit includes a wooden 1920 Fort Worth Spudder Drilling Rig, set up with a small structured called the doghouse, where workers would change clothes, get out of the rain and keep the paperwork on drilling operations. Also on exhibit are drilling rig tools and other wooden rigs. Associated historic oil and gas field equipment is located throughout the exhibits area and historic photographs of the oil and natural gas industry are in the Atwood Annex. In a short musuem video, local oil and natural gas producer Tom Dugan of Dugan Production Corp. talks about some of the old equipment at the museum.
The museum has a mock nuclear fracking device from the Gasbuggy Project of 1967, when a nuclear device was exploded deep underground 60 miles east of Aztec in Carson National Forest, to fracture natural gas-bearing rock. The Gasbuggy explosion was nearly twice as powerful as the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The mock device on display was actually lowered down the Gasbuggy drilling hole as part of preparations for the nuclear explosion. The museum can provide directions on how to get to the Gasbuggy Project site. Learn more about Gasbuggy here.
Nature's Gifts - San Juan Basin New Mexico
Nature's Gifts is an 11-minute video that shows how the people of the San Juan Basin − ancient to modern − have used nature’s gifts of water, sun, natural gas, oil and coal. Ask to watch the video at the museum or view Nature's Gifts online.
Public Art Projects
Imagine Aztec in July 1926. Some of the last pieces of cotton from the giant cottonwood trees glide through the air, coming to rest on the soft, dark dirt of Main Street. Shiny black cars, mostly Model T’s, are parked in the shade at an angle. Residents walk along the boardwalk or across the street, intent on their daily business. A few children run into the Uptegrove Café to buy an ice cream. The air is dry on this hot summer day and the scene is peaceful. Then something unexpected comes along: Buffalo are walking on Main Street. Learn More