The earliest photographic collections housed in the Palace were acquired by the Historical Society of New Mexico in the mid-to-late 1800s. These were also formative years for the history of photography. Photographers, artists, anthropologists, and writers who visited New Mexico in this early period helped shape the American image of the region through their interrelated bodies of work. Their combined efforts led to the creation of a mythical Santa Fe.
Arriving in 1880, the railroad brought many new photographers to New Mexico and allowed their images a much wider distribution. These images promoted New Mexico as an alternative to European grand tours and compared its sites to those of Egypt and other exotic destinations.
Photographers images, incorporated into tourism brochures and the Museum of New Mexico's own publication, El Palacio, disseminated a romantic image of the city, the region, and its cultures.
Excerpted from essays by Frances Levine, David Noble, and Siegfried Halus
Through the Lens: Creating Santa Fe
Santa Fe: MNM Press, 2009