The vibrant arts scene mirrors the mix through the variety of permanent and rotating exhibits found in the county’s museums and galleries. An abundance of iconic natural landscapes and archaeological sites complements the arts scene and draws visitors from across the country and around the world.
The center of San Juan County’s historical and artistic attractions is Farmington. In 2018, the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs authorized and established an Arts & Cultural District and program in downtown Farmington. Known as “The HeART of Farmington,” the program supports innovative industries and creative entrepreneurs, artists and cultural facilities. As a state-sponsored program, the City of Farmington is also eligible for incentives and tax credits to develop cultural plans or rehabilitate historic structures within the district. The district includes the Farmington Historic Downtown Commercial District which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is home to a collection of museums, theaters, galleries and studios showcasing the history of the Four Corners Region.
Other museums in the City of Farmington are the main Farmington Museum at Gateway Center and the E3 Children’s Museum and Science Center. The Museum of Navajo Art & Culture is the newest facility of the Farmington Museum System and celebrates the vibrant art, culture and history of the Diné, or Navajo, people. The Museum of Navajo Art & Culture houses an extraordinary collection of Navajo rugs – a generous donation from long-time Farmington resident Bob Culpepper.
The City of Farmington Civic Center is a multi-utilization facility, which serves as a convention and conference site, as well as a performing and visual arts center. Home to subscription series performing arts and travelling performances, the Civic Center is also a regional hub for meetings.
Farmington also has a vibrant theater community. Four Corners Musical Theatre Company is a newly founded musical theatre company bringing together local and national talent to create amazing theatre in the Four Corners. The Heather McGaughey Children’s Theatre and Teen Voices seeks to build the love of theater and promote self-confidence and teamwork skills in Farmington’s youth. It was created in memory of Heather McGaughey, a professional actress and entertainer who tragically lost her life in Farmington in July of 2005.
San Juan College hosts the Performance Series which, along with the many college productions that take place on campus, offers some of the best values in family entertainment.
The San Juan Symphony is a 65-piece professional orchestra made up of musicians from the Four Corners region. The Symphony presents four concerts each season in Farmington. Farmington performances take place at the Henderson Fine Arts Center Performance Hall at San Juan College.
Theater Ensemble Arts, Inc is a local theater group that seeks to provide affordable, quality multicultural live theatrical performances. With each production, TEArts strives to develop community interest as well as youth attendance and participation.
San Juan County is also the gateway to incredible archaeological and natural sites. The history of ancient civilizations and the landforms the "ancient ones" revered are found throughout the Four Corners Region.
Aztec Ruins National Monument includes ancient ceremonial, public, and storage structure ruins built by the Ancestral Puebloans in the 1100’s. Aztec Ruins is known for its “Great Kiva,” a 40-foot diameter semi-subterranean structure which was the central religious site of the complex and is the oldest and largest reconstructed Kiva in North America.
Southern San Juan County is home to the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness and the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness. These are a badland area of rolling water-carved clay hills, rich in fossils and unique visible geological formations. Some say visiting these areas are like visiting another planet. For sure the dark sky photography and landscapes are limitless.
Also at the southern edge of San Juan County is Chaco Culture National Historical Park, which holds the largest excavated prehistoric ruins in North America and was the center of the Ancestral Puebloan culture from 850 to 1200 A.D.
Hovenweep National Monument is a short drive into southwestern Colorado and includes theruins of six Ancestral Puebloan communities, including beautiful, skillful towers, kivas, dwellings and storage granaries, most of which were built between 1200 and 1300 A.D.
Approximately 75 miles north of Farmington near Cortez, Colorado, is Mesa Verde National Park, the archaeological preserve famous for its concentration of cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people. The park includes nearly 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings, many of which are the most notable and best preserved in the country.
Salmon Ruins, sits just outside Bloomfield in San Juan County and is managed by the San Juan County Museum Association. Visitors can explore full-scale reconstructions of Ancestral Puebloans habitations, walk through an excavated archaeological site, and visit a surviving New Mexico frontier homestead.
Rising to 7,178 feet above sea level, towing rock formation Shiprock Pinnacle is one of New Mexico's most iconic landmarks and known to the Navajo as "Tsé Bit' A'í", or rock with wings. Climbing is not permitted of this sacred landmark but pictures are welcomed!