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Tinkertown Museum of Folk Art in New Mexico

If you want to see something inexpensive but unusual, you should not miss the Tinkertown Museum of Folk Art. It is located only twenty minutes from Albuquerque, the biggest city in New Mexico. Due to the sometimes unpredictable road conditions, it is closed in winter. However, when you visit in summertime, you’ll be glad that the museum is located on the east side of the Sandia Mountains on forested, elevated land where temperatures will be cooler than back in the city.

The Tinkertown Museum has to be seen to be believed. It is more than just an ode to Western style, caricature-style woodcarving. Instead, it has something for everyone and is sure to appeal to men and women alike. Children will love staring at the colorful exhibits such as an exquisitely carved little pioneer town and an elaborate circus big top – both of which creak into motion at the push of a button. Older folks will enjoy the nostalgic look of the museum, which no doubt derives from its creator’s colorful past as a show painter for traveling carnivals through the first half of the twentieth century.

As early as 1962, self-taught artist Ross Ward completed the first carvings that would be featured in the museum. The first visitors to an early version of the museum arrived in 1983. Though Mr. Ward passed away in 2002, his family has honored his “show-must-go-on” spirit by continuing to maintain this very popular roadside attraction. The museum features walls made of bottles through which the sunlight shines for a stained glass effect. It houses a sailboat that made an around-the-world journey. For only the price of a quarter, you can get Otto the One-Man Band to play a tune, or you can have your fortune told by the spooky Esmeralda who lurks inside a display case with her Tarot cards.

And of course there are the amazing woodcarvings in eye-catching little scenarios everywhere that prove that Mr. Ward was as gifted at painting as he was with carving. One of my favorite scenes shows an older man surrounded by Day of the Dead skeletons while an enormous angel and an equally large devil squabble over possession of him. Elsewhere, a wooden sign announces, “I did all this while you were watching television!” which is sure to send a shiver of guilt down your spine.

The Tinkertown Museum at http://tinkertown.com/
Address: 121 Sandia Crest Rd, Sandia Park, NM 87047
Phone: (505) 281-5233

Monday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Tuesday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Wednesday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Thursday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Friday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Saturday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sunday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm

The rates are
ADULTS: $3.50
ADULTS AGED 62+: $3.00
KIDS AGED 4-16: $1.00
KIDS Under 4: Free
with group rates available by appointment. Handicapped parking is available, but the narrow wooden walkways might be a challenge for wheelchairs.

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