Updated December 30, 2008For those interested in the artist Georgia O'Keeffe or in New Mexico history, a visit to the O'Keeffe home in Abiquiu will be a special one.
The home is managed by the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. Through the museum you can reserve a tour and be part of a select few who are able to tour the home from early spring through the late fall. Tours last an hour and are limited to 12 people at a time. Reservation information can be found on the museum website or by phoning: 505.946.1000
Getting to Abiquiu
The village of Abiquiu is not far from Ghost Ranch. It is off I-84. Map Guests meet at the Georgia O'Keeffe Home and Studio Tour Office next to the Abiquiu Inn and are taken by shuttle to the Abiquiu house. This is a good thing as it's not easy to find.
A fee of $30.00 per person, submitted with the name and address of each visitor, is due prior to the scheduled tour date. The rate for Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Members, seniors 65 or older, and students is $25.00 per person.
The fee for the Special Tour with the Historic Properties Manager will be $50.00 per person. I found that the tour with the Properties Manager was especially delightful as she and her family had worked for O'Keeffe for many years. Through her stories, I caught a glimpse of O'Keeffe's personality and quirks.
The adobe home in the village of Abiquiu has been left much as it was when O'Keeffe lived there. Abiquiu is believed to have been settled by Indians from Mesa Verde who abandoned the area in 1500. By the mid-1700's, Spain colonized the region by deeding land grants to the Christianized Indians who were affiliated with the Spanish. It is believed that parts of Georgia O'Keeffe's home may date back to this period, perhaps 1760.
When Georgia O'Keeffe purchased the property in 1945 it was in ruins. The walled compound is set on the edge of a mesa and the view, itself, is worth having a home in that location. Over the next three years, O'Keeffe worked with her friend, Maria Chabot, to renovate the property. She added gardens and innovative architectural detail, all of which you can see on the tour.
What You will See on the Tour
Enter the compound through Ms. O'Keeffe's garden. You will be told that photography and sketching is not allowed. The home, you will find, is just as she left it in 1984. It is a New Mexico style home with wood ceiling supports called vigas, and in some rooms, mud floors sealed with a flour paste. The central patio has the feeling of living in a fort with walls and rooms all around. There are few plants. There is a well house. You will soon realize that the courtyard wall and door appeared in some of her paintings. She loved simplicity of line and form and kept her home in accordance with this desire for simplicity.
In the pantry and kitchen you will see she lived, canning the harvest from the garden and using plain bowls and utensils kept on open metal cabinets. Even a special tea she enjoyed remains.
I especially enjoyed her large studio and marveled at the large windows and light where she painted. It is also a sitting room. In her studio are books cataloging her many works of art.
O'Keeffe's bedroom also mirrors this simple style that opens out to nature. The corner windows are so large that she must have felt that she was sleeping outside on the edge of the mesa. The walls are a natural gray earth. The bedding and furnishings are simple and lend to the tranquil atmosphere.
Throughout the home you will see evidence of O'Keeffe's love of nature and enjoyment of collecting specimens... rocks, skulls and more desert treasures. Many window ledges are full of these rocks. She loved walking out in the desert and returned with these treasures which ended up as simple, natural decor in her home.
You will be able to see the valley and the road below the mesa. O'Keeffe loved the road which ribboned through the valley and it appears in some of her paintings.
I highly recommend a tour of O'Keeffe's home. It is not possible to tour her Ghost Ranch home. Touring the Abiquiu home and studio gives you a rare opportunity to get to know the artist through how she lived and worked. You'll see her love for the home mirrored in some of her paintings. Standing on the edge of the mesa, as she did, will be a memory to take back with you when you leave northern New Mexico.
Tips from Liz
- Make your reservation well in advance. Tours are limited
- Don't expect to photograph the inside of the home or gardens
- Wear walking shoes
- Restrooms are available only at the inn