My partner and I finally made it during open hours to the Telephone Museum of New Mexico. We had tried to go a couple of times before and always missed it by the thinnest of margins. They are only open MWF 10-2, so plan accordingly.
The TMNM is a charming place, situated in the old telephone exchange building downtown, on the 4th St Mall between Central and Copper. It is a truly local and non-profit endeavor, staffed and manned entirely, it seems, by retiree volunteers. In the initial room, there is a collection of old wall mounted units from the early age of the telephone around NM, complete with photographs of the telephone centers that used to house them. Back behind is a large room stuffed to the gills with phones from the earliest to the pretty recent. Mini phones, weird phones, office phones, picture phones, explosion-proof phones (no joke), pay phones, phones from around the world. It's a lot to take in, but we meandered and spotted a number that were exciting enough to call across the room, "Ooh, hey, look at this one!" The aesthetics and design aspects of a large amount of this material alone is worth a trip for someone interested in such things, and we both are, especially my JJ.
The downstairs has a collection related to the early development of phone networks across the country, and the upstairs has more history and a focus on the installation, tools, and maintenance of the lines "back then." But both up (which is 3rd & 4th floor in a funny split level) and the basement are chock-full of historical recreations and dioramas, all hand made, all populated by mannequins. Again: No joke. The place is frankly full of mannequins using phones, invading the United States, saving our citizens from those invaders, warning neighbors of impending doom (The Sad Story of Sally), climbing poles, connecting calls, sipping champagne. Creepy, yes. But really wonderful and entertaining.
This is genuinely a small community, niche museum, but it's all about something that is so central to our everyday lives. Frankly, I learned a lot about the history of phones, while also being highly entertained for over and hour.
The fee was only $2 for adults ($1 for 12 and under). It's centrally located. It's air conditioned. The building itself, inside and out, is lovely. I highly recommend taking a morning or early afternoon and going to see this place. History geeks will love it; local interests abound for those of us partisan for NM; steampunk artisans will marvel at the transistors and silk-wrapped wiring; and for those interested in the fancy bakelite style of 1930's material culture: it don't get much cooler than some of this stuff.
Go see art.
Wait...I mean...go see phones.