Is it possible for an arts organization to respect the hallowed neighborhood in which it resides and be future-focused? Could it serve as a cultural home for locals while attracting worldwide attention? Can its campus reverberate with the buzz of performances, exhibitions, and events yet provide space for quiet contemplation? If the arts organization in question is The National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, the answer is a resounding “yes.” 

Encounter Culture host Charlotte Jusinski chats with Executive Director Dr. Margie Huerta and Artistic Director Noël Bella Merriam about the NHCC’s exciting, affordable programming as well as its ongoing efforts to preserve, promote, and advance Hispanic culture.

“It’s a wonderful place for visitors to explore cultural identity and learn about the richness which spans so much. We represent not only the Hispano community in New Mexico but also 27 Spanish speaking countries,” says Noël of the NHCC’s local-global spirit. The multi-hyphenate institution, which sits in the middle of the historic Barelas neighborhood, is home to a museum, a performing arts center with three stages, a history and literary arts building, and Mundos de Mestizaje, the stunning 4,000 square foot concave fresco by Frederico Vigil.

The NHCC campus architecture draws from various Hispanic cultures around the world, welcoming visitors with familiar yet unexpected elements. Its expansive and bright central plaza, for example, feels like a vast beach without water. As they make their way inside any one of the impressive public spaces, guests are encouraged to engage with centuries of Hispanic and mestizo tradition brought to life via the visual, literary, and performing arts. 

As for the future of the NHCC, Margie maintains that community collaboration and support are vital. “We’re a real treasure for our country,” she says. “[But] I first feel it’s our responsibility and my passion to reach out to Barelas. That’s important to me. I think it should be an important part of our history because that’s where we are––and let’s not forget our roots.” Inherent to that goal is education, connecting with schools in the surrounding communities, reiterating to students and their families that the NHCC is a place where they belong. 

Cultivating inclusion and celebrating diverse identities. Who says the NHCC can’t do all the things?
Explore the events calendar and plan your visit to the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque, NM.

Visit for info about our museums, historic sites, virtual tours and more.


Encounter Culture, a production of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, is produced and edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios.
Hosted by Charlotte Jusinski, Editor at El Palacio Magazine
Technical Director: Edwin R. Ruiz
Recording Engineer: Kabby at Kabby Sound Studios in Santa Fe
Executive Producer:  Daniel Zillmann
Show Notes: Lisa Widder
Associate Editor: Helen King
Theme Music: D’Santi Nava
Instagram: @newmexicanculture
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