The El Paso Museum of History offers visitors a bilingual, multi-cultural experience through exhibitions that focus on the history of El Paso del Norte (The Pass of the North). The permanent and rotating exhibitions in the museum’s six galleries feature history beginning from pre-Spanish contact to present.
Mexicanidad: Folklorizing a Nation 1921 – 1971
Sep 14, 2023 - Mar 9, 2024
2nd Floor, Gallery D
Mexicanidad: Folklorizing a Nation 1921-1971 showcases a visual history of artesanias (“crafts”) produced in the wake of the Mexican Revolution by Indigenous artisans and displayed alongside 2D works by Jose Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Diego Rivera (Los Tres Grandes), and many more. Featuring a wide of range of pottery, textiles, woodworking, basketry, and other objects, this exhibit celebrates the craftsmanship and artistry of these pieces and their creators while also examining the social, political, and cultural climate that enabled their production.
Lasting more than a decade, the Mexican Revolution represented not only a major political upheaval but an economic, social, and cultural one as well. At the end of the conflict, during The Peaceful Years, seeking to unite a divided and factious country, the newly installed Mexican government turned its attention towards developing an essential idea of Mexicanidad (“Mexicanicity” or “Mexican-ness”) that could be used to solidify and bolster the burgeoning nation's identity.
To do this, Mexican officials and intellectuals invested in and cultivated the production of artesanias across the country: crafts and other visual materials that would highlight Mexico’s Indigenous roots in a ‘modern’ context, carefully synthesizing Mexico’s Indigenous and European heritage in order to become something at once familiar, exotic, and most of all recognizable. This movement in art and art-making was done not only with an eye towards nation-building but with the idea of presenting a palatable image to global powers as well. Much of the work produced during this time, like the murals of Los Tres Grandes or the tradition of ballet folklorico, is today seen as quintessential representations of Mexican culture.
Mexicanidad: Folklorizing a Nation 1921-1971 will be on display through March 9, 2024.
Special thanks to Michael T. Ricker, El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso Public Library-Border Heritage Center, and UTEP Special Collections.
Desert Couture: Fashioning Two Centuries in the Southwest
Jun 22, 2023 - May 11, 2024
2nd Floor, Gallery C
“Desert Couture: Fashioning Two Centuries in the Southwest” highlights the El Paso Museum of History’s diverse collection of textiles, accessories, and garments, which span from the antebellum period up to the mid-late 20th century.
The arrival of the railroad at the end of the 19th century transformed the Paso del Norte region into a commercial crossroads, leading to a boom in population, industry, and labor needs in what had previously been a small, predominantly Mexican town. Individuals from Europe, Syria, and Lebanon migrated to El Paso in search of opportunities and brought with them new styles, customs, and tastes.
Department stores in Downtown El Paso like The Popular Dry Goods, The White House, and others formed a hub for imported fashions that advertised to a growing population of customers across the Southwest and northern Mexico. At these stores, people could shop the latest fashion trends from the United States and Europe, purchase ready-to-wear pieces for daily use, and commission custom-made clothing for special occasions. “Desert Couture” will highlight the merchants, designs, fabrication, and trends that defined fashion for generations of El Pasoans.
Neighborhoods & Shared Memories: South Central
May 4, 2023 - Apr 6, 2024
2nd Floor, Neighborhoods Gallery
Nestled in what was once land that hosted pear orchards and cotton fields flourished a working-class neighborhood that would become synonymous with El Paso’s warm and welcoming nature. Many of its residents settled into this area after being displaced from a neighborhood called Stormsville, which was condemned in 1928 These neighborhoods and their residents helped launch an area that would host iconic establishments and institutions such as Chicos Tacos, Ascarate Park, The County Coliseum, Good Luck Café, Washington Park, Thomas Jefferson High School, and the El Paso Zoo to name a few.
This exhibit is part of an ongoing series that features historic neighborhoods throughout El Paso. Previously highlighted neighborhoods include Chihuahuita, Segundo Barrio, Sunset Heights, and Manhattan Heights.
“Neighborhoods & Shared Memories: South Central” will be on display through April 6, 2024.
Still We Rise: El Paso's Black Experience
Feb 25, 2023 - Mar 16, 2024
1st Floor, Gallery B
“Still We Rise: El Paso’s Black Experience” highlights the vibrant history of El Paso’s Black community in the decades leading up to and following desegregation. Tracing back to the first documented African American individuals in El Paso, this exhibition highlights generations of Afro descendants’ contributions to the region as they built businesses, homes, and neighborhoods during slavery, Jim Crow era, and beyond. Based in the testimonies and oral histories of community, “Still We Rise” aims to showcase the joy and accomplishments of those who call El Paso home.
This exhibition will be on display through March 16, 2024.