Museum Exhibits

Changing Pass: People, Land & Memory

December 1, 2022 - December 31, 2024

1st Floor, Permanent Exhibition Gallery

The museum’s permanent exhibition, “Changing Pass: People, Land & Memory” immediately greets visitors who walk through the door, inviting them to explore and reconsider what the borderlands are all about. Now covering more than 1,000 years of El Paso del Norte region history, Changing Pass begins with early Indigenous settlers and concludes with World War II and the Bracero Program in the 20th century.

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Hank Willis Thomas: Art Bridges loan

January 12, 2023 - May 31, 2024

In his wide-ranging conceptual practice, Hank Willis Thomas explores how American society commodifies Black male identity. His works—which span photography, sculpture, textile, installation, and more—often reflect on media representations and social justice Thomas studied at New York University before pursuing a dual MA and MFA in visual criticism and photography at California College of the Arts. He has exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, London, Milan, Brussels, São Paulo, Berlin, and Paris, among other cities. His work belongs in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Hong Kong Arts Centre, the Museum of Modern Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Thomas is also a co-founder of For Freedoms, an organization that promotes civic engagement via large-scale public projects.

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vanessa german: Art Bridges loan

January 12, 2023 - December 31, 2024

Black Girl on Skateboard… provides a meditation on the color yellow through physical objects and the written word. vanessa german, a self-taught ‘citizen’ artist, often crafts these, which she refers to as power figures, out of discarded materials from her local community. german’s power figures serve as protectors for Black people against violence. Drawing from Congolese Nkisi sculptures and elements of folk art, the works defy figurative expectations and emphasize their vibrancy through emotion and energy.

The 2022 iterations of german’s power figures include poetry written by the artist as the object’s materials list. In this decision to disrupt typical object information, german’s Black Girl on Skateboard… bridges materiality and abstraction. The artist describes the resonance of her power figures as, “active technologies of the soul that touch the vast history that exists in the spiral of our DNA.”

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Still We Rise: El Paso's Black Experience

February 25, 2023 - March 16, 2024

“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.

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Neighborhoods & Shared Memories: South Central

May 4, 2023 - April 6, 2024

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 included Chihuahuita, Segundo Barrio, Sunset Heights, and Manhattan Heights.

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Desert Couture: Fashioning Two Centuries in the Southwest

June 22, 2023 - March 16, 2024

“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.

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Mexicanidad: Folklorizing A Nation 1921 – 1971

September 14, 2023 - February 24, 2024

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.

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Beaten with a Hammer

December 15, 2023 - June 2, 2024

In Beaten with a Hammer, Marfa-based artist Bettina Landgrebe uses over 500 hearts to bear testimony to the war against the female body. Her haunting installation composed of suspended hearts confronts audiences with the issue of femicides. The work highlights the reach violence on gender can have in a community and how it can disrupt a culture. THIS EXHIBITION IS INTENDED FOR A MATURE AUDIENCE. Parental discretion is advised.

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Zoe Leonard: Photographs from the Collection

December 15, 2023 - April 21, 2024

Zoe Leonard’s From Casa de Adobe, Ciudad Juárez is a series of stills focusing on a specific scene from her vast project Al río / To the River. While observing the borderscape and its river, Leonard employs repetition and shifts in perspective to explore how boundaries manifest in nature. Together, these intimate moments reflect upon movement, vantage points and captured impermanence.

This exhibition is made possible through the gracious contribution provided by the Estate of Lineaus Hooper Lorette. Additional support for this exhibition is by provided by the Mellon Foundation, the El Paso Museum of Art Foundation, and the City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department.

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Castner Range, A Community's Effort To Create A National Monument

December 9, 2023 - November 30, 2024

This exhibit focuses on the biodiversity and archaeological conservation, history of the range and the preservation movement that led to the proclamation of the national monument.

Exhibit is brought to you by the El Paso Museum of Archaeology, Museum and Cultural Affairs Department and the City of El Paso, and with the support of the El Paso Community Foundation, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project and The Frontera Land Alliance.

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A Waddle Through Time Ducks, People, and the Conservation Odyssey

January 27, 2024 - July 27, 2024

Our connection with ducks goes beyond backyard ponds and childhood rhymes. It’s a tale woven through history, etched in feathers, and splashed across continents. From featuring in prehistoric feasts to the “murderous millinery” of the late 19th century, ducks have paddled alongside humanity, shaping and being shaped by our ever-changing world. Highlighting the work of Dr. Philip Lavretsky from the UTEP Department of Biological Sciences, this exhibit is a celebration of their adaptability, a testament to human ingenuity in protecting them, and a call to action for ensuring their continued survival in a world we all share.

Nuestra conexión con los patos va más allá de los estanques en patios y rimas de la niñez. Es un cuento tejido a través de la historia, grabada en plumas, y salpicados a través de los continentes. Desde presentarse en festines prehistóricos a la “sombrerería asesina” de finales del siglo XIX, los patos han remado junto con la humanidad, moldeando y siendo moldeados por nuestro siempre cambiante mundo. Destacando el trabajo del Dr. Philip Lavretsky del Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas de UTEP, esta exhibición es una celebración a su adaptabilidad, un testamento a la ingeniosidad humana al protegerlos, y una llamada a la acción asegurando la continua sobrevivencia en un mundo el que todos compartimos.

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Siempre Selena

February 15, 2024 - February 9, 2025

Siempre Selena commemorates the enduring legacy of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, the Queen of Tejano Music. A Grammy Award-winning artist, Selena’s posthumous impact resonates globally in the realms of music, fashion, and pop culture. Her influence extends to El Paso, inspiring new generations and fostering a lasting connection with her legacy. This exhibition features monumental photographs by John Dyer, Selena-inspired costumes, and memorabilia contributed by the El Paso community.

Selena Forever/Siempre Selena is inspired by an exhibition of the same name organized by the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas.

Support for this exhibition is provided by the Mellon Foundation, Wellpoint, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Texas Commission on the Arts, the El Paso Museum of Art Foundation, and the City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department.

Items on loan graciously provided by John Dyer, Touch Bar El Paso, El Paso Community College TV, and members of the El Paso community.

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Nexus Between Roots

March 22, 2024 - July 21, 2024

Nexo Entre Raíces / Nexus Between Roots is a print portfolio capturing the continuity of Mexican culture between Mexican artists and those who identify as Mexican while living abroad. The exhibition serves as a collection of works where artists responded to the prompt of the passage of time. They question and answer to the call of their roots and for the continuity of traditions regardless of time and space. Works on view answer several questions often posed to artists working in Mexico and United States – What responsibility do they have in paying homage to their familial and ancestral lineage? For those who have left their home country, how do they preserve the link between people, land, and roots? The heart seemingly functions as a seed to be planted anew as a way to avoid complete assimilation, in the form of rooted manifestations of cultural persistence.

Participating Artists:

Mexico – Gabriel Avalos, Alec Dempster, Carlos Flores ROM, Hector Gómez, Hazel Hernández, Daniel Hernández, Violeta Juárez, Manuel B León, Mariela López, Víctor López, Román Miranda, Gabriela Morac, Nadia Osornio, Daniel Ram, Rafa Silva, and Jainite Silvestre / U.S. – Miguel Aragón, Jacob Bautista, Francisco Delgado, Juana Estrada Hernández, J. Leigh García, Nabil González, Omar González, Manuel Guerra, Paloma Mayorga, Lacey B. Mills, Juan De Dios Mora, Mario Alonso Pérez, Gisela Ramírez, Jonathan Rebolloso, Louie Salazar, Marco Sánchez, and Roberto Torres Mata.

Nexo Entre Raíces / Nexus Between Roots was organized by Marco Sánchez, Director of Taller La Espina

Support for this exhibition is provided by the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Texas Commission on the Arts, the El Paso Museum of Art Foundation, and the City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department.

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A Beautiful Mess: Weavers & Knotters of the Vanguard

May 16, 2024 - August 18, 2024

Using rope, yarn, clay, and wire, this group of conceptual artists knot and twist their media into sculptures that range from minimal and hyper-organized to utter pandemonium. They explore personal and political ideals — order and chaos to the extreme — and freely break the rules to create their beautiful artworks. Serious about making a strong cultural and intellectual impact, this group deftly weaves their message into works that demonstrate extraordinary technical skill.

While the means of production vary tremendously for each artist featured in A Beautiful Mess, they find commonality in their pursuit to upheave the status quo. By bringing their unique stories to the forefront, these artists draw from potent source material to create sculptures and installations staggering in beauty and conceptual backing. As artist Kira Dominguez Hultgren puts it, “weaving is about strange combinations.” Whether by utilizing non-traditional materials, tapping into personal memories, or untangling complex histories, the artists in A Beautiful Mess strive to revolutionize a previously marginalized genre.

Participating Artists: Windy Chien, Kirsten Hassenfeld, Dana Hemenway, Kira Dominguez Hultgren, dani lopez, Hannah Perrine Mode, Liz Robb, Meghan Shimek, Lisa Solomon, Katrina Sánchez Standfield, and Jacqueline Surdell

A Beautiful Mess: Weavers & Knotters of the Vanguard was organized by Bedford Gallery at the Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek, CA

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Tom Lea and Contemporaries

September 4, 2024 - January 26, 2025

Born in El Paso in 1907, Tom Lea was one of the Southwest’s most prolific artists of his time. Following his studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Lea painted numerous public murals throughout the U.S. and illustrated books. He served as an artist correspondent for Life magazine during World War II and later wrote the best-selling novels The Brave Bulls (1949) and The Wonderful Country (1952). Lea devoted his career to documenting the landscape, history, and people of his native Southwest.

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