El Rancho de las Golondrinas, located near the Santa Fe Plaza, reopened on Sept. 9 after being closed for six months due to COVID-19 measures put in place by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
El Rancho de las Golondrinas was active in the 18th and 19th centuries as a stopping point for people who were traveling the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, a historic trade route between Mexico City and Ohkay Owingeh during the Spanish colonial era. It is now a museum that is dedicated to preserving an important site of New Mexican history. According to the website, the museum is meant to promote and preserve the Hispanic heritage of northern New Mexico.
The safety of the general public was kept in mind as to when it would reopen, according to the museum’s education and volunteer manager Laura Gonzales.
“We wanted to push after the holiday so we were avoiding any potential rush of any out of town visitors, keeping safety in mind,” Gonzalez said. “We wanted to wait until after the Labor Day holiday and give staff a chance to review all of the COVID safe practices and give us ample time to make sure we had the appropriate signage and the appropriate supplies in place.”
The museum has put COVID-19 safe practices into order to keep its visitors safe, according to El Rancho director Daniel Goodman.
Goodman said the museum now requires online reservations to avoid going over the state’s mandatory reduced capacity, which is a maximum of 50 people per session. Walk-in sales are not permitted, and there is a limit of 10 people per group.
According to the website, visiting times are broken into two sessions: one morning session between 10 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. and an afternoon session between 1:15 p.m. and 4 p.m. Between these two sessions, there is a window for cleaning and sanitizing.
Goodman said masks are also mandatory while at the museum, whether an individual is outside or inside.
“Normally, our season runs June through October. Within that season, we are open for self-guided tours, we’re open for private tours, we’re used to having lots of groups come through for tours and we’re used to having school groups come on field trips,” Gonzales said. “Every other weekend, we have about nine festivals per season — they’re big weekend events, so we’ve canceled all our major events for the season.”
With the late opening and changes to its usual season, there was naturally a detrimental impact on incoming revenue.
“It’s been really tough. We are a private nonprofit — we’re not a state institution, so we’re expected to meet our earned revenue, and that’s not going to happen this year,” Goodman said. “We just don’t have the people coming in for those admissions figures. We’ve done everything we can to make sure the museum is in a good place financially, that people stay on the payroll and stay paid.”
However, despite the changes, Goodman and Gonzales are thankful for the support the museum has received and where they are given the restrictions and only have hope for the future of El Rancho de las Golondrinas.
“We’re just going to keep moving forward as best as we can and as safe as we can. We’re just grateful for the support we have had throughout the last few months,” Gonzales said.
The museum has the option for purchasing membership with prices ranging from $40 to $100, which gives individuals access to free admission to the museum at any time.
Goodman is thankful for the loyalty of El Rancho’s members as they go through the uncertainty of the pandemic.
“We appreciate the support of our members and the people who come out here and want to learn about New Mexico history and take in the beautiful scenery,” Goodman said. “If any students need to get out of Albuquerque for a little bit and get a little fresh air, we’d love to have you all out here.”
The museum is currently open Monday through Friday until Sept. 18. Beginning Sept. 23 through October, it will be open Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets for reserved times can be purchased online.
Hannah John is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @yesitshannahj