LOS LUNAS—A handful of community members gathered at the Los Lunas Transportation Center to weigh in on the creation of a Route 66 Museum and Visitor Center.
The museum will eventually be built on property the village of Los Lunas bought in 2015, directly west of the Luna Mansion on Main Street.
Led by students from The University of New Mexico’s School of Architecture and Planning, those at the input session ranked the uses of the space with the majority indicating a need for community event space, followed by flexible exhibits, outdoor spaces and finally, the museum’s permanent collection.
The permanent collection of the museum would be the core physical artifacts, photos and memorabilia on display which are typically found in museums.
The ability to have flexible exhibits allows for things like visiting collections and creating space for other events, such as meetings or even weddings.
Space would be set aside for events, such as classes and other events, and an outdoor gathering space could be used for things like movie nights or pop-up events with food trucks.
The participants were asked to break in to small groups and create their ideal layout for the museum and visitor center.
While some featured items such as kiva fireplaces and a waterfall, most included elements such as an auditorium, banquet halls, classroom and meeting space.
One group suggested a pedestrian bridge across Main Street to property to the north for additional parking, as well as a bridge over the irrigation ditch to the east of the property to facilitate access to N.M. 314 and the Rail Runner Express station to the south.
“The fundamental question is, ‘How does Los Lunas want to use the museum?’ How do you imagine the site? Are there are additional amenities or concepts that will make the site more engaging,” asked UNM student Muhammad Hussein.
The students also studied traffic data that showed on average, there were 200,000 daily trips made on Interstate 25 south of Interstate 40, and Main Street, N.M. 6, averaged 15,700 weekday trips.
Erin Callahan, the village’s special projects planner, said the students would return for another presentation of a more refined plan to seek additional public input this month.
The Route 66 Museum has been in the village’s plans for several years to commemorate when the route dipped down into Los Lunas between 1926 and 1937 before heading west to California.
The focus will be on the under-told local stories of the areas mostly Hispanic agricultural communities and how the route impacted them, Callahan told the News-Bulletin last year.
The property, the home of the now-demolished Country Inn, has two remaining structures on it — one that is a historic building and likely where the museum will be housed, Callahan said.
A project is moving forward thanks to a partnership between the village and the UNM students, and a $25,000 grant by the National Endowment for the Arts for the design and planning of a museum and visitors center.
This spring, four different studio courses, coordinated through the UNM School of Architecture and Planning, have been working on projects, such master planning for the site, asset mapping to see what is in close proximity of the site and how a museum would best function in the area.
The historic inventory course will analyze the structure with some class work done this summer, and then in the fall, an advanced architecture design course will draft the museum and museum grounds architectural design.
Callahan said the village’s hope is that by spring 2020 it will be in a position to put out an RFP for construction.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.