With a collection of turquoise drawn from more than one hundred different mines, Albuquerque’s Turquoise Museum is considered a worldwide authority on the mineral. When the Santa Fe Trail brought traders and settlers west, turquoise became a valuable commodity. Native Americans in the area have also been using turquoise for centuries in their art. With both of these legacies, New Mexico has become a world famous spot for turquoise. The brightly colored stone, shining the color of its name, takes on a variety of different shapes, forms, and histories in the museum’s displays.
A visit allows for an education on mining processes and techniques as well as the natural geology and mineralogy of turquoise. There’s even a replica of a mine tunnel that leads to where the most precious and rare turquoise specimens. The main J.C. “Zack” Zachary collection features turquoise stones from 80 different locations around the globe. Guests can also see how the mineral is formed from a natural material into jewelry at a working lapidary shop.
The privately owned Albuquerque Turquoise Museum is open only for guided tour. Tours are given twice daily from Monday to Saturday at 11 am and 1 pm. It’s located on Central Avenue NW and best approached by car.