The museum was first created in 1967 and located in the Albuquerque International Sunport. The collection outgrew the available space in the terminal, and the current location was built in 1979. The building was designed by Antoine Predock.
The museum's permanent exhibits dedicated to the history of Albuquerque include early maps, conquistador armor, weavings, and other artifacts of colonial life in New Mexico. The museum also houses changing exhibits, a massive photo archive, art galleries, and maintains an outdoor sculpture garden on the grounds.