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New Mexico State University
NMSU Library News

NMSU Retablos Displayed at Library

Date: May 4, 2012

CONTACT: Jeanette Smith, NMSU Library, (575) 646-7492,

The New Mexico State University Library is displaying several retablos from the University’s Permanent Collection on loan to the Library from the University Art Gallery.  The artworks are on display in the Library Dean’s Office.                         

Holy Family Retablo

A unique artistic tradition of nineteenth century Mexico, retablos are popular expressions of faith painted on small sheets of tin-coated iron.  Retablos were not originally created as art objects, but were functional everyday items used for home worship.

Pilgrims who traveled roadways such as El Camino Real between Mexico City and Santa Fe stopped at shrines along the way, leaving their devotional images behind.  This caused the art to move northward into New Mexico.

The display in the Library is but a sampling of the University’s collection.  New Mexico State University holds the largest public collection of retablos in the United States.  From 1963 to 1973, more than 1,700 retablos were donated to the University.

Dr. Preston Thayer, the director of the NMSU Art Gallery, said, “The University’s retablos are a major strength of the Permanent Collection, and we are pleased to be able to display some of them at the Library.”

For more information on NMSU’s retablos, visit   Contact the Gallery at (575) 646-2545 or the Library Dean’s Office at (575) 646-1508.


June 4, 2012 Categories: News NMSU Retablos Displayed at Library