Community-Minded: The Roswell Museum Federal Art Center

August 11, 2018 - May 26, 2019
Hunter Galley


For 80 years, the Roswell Museum and Art Center has enriched southeast New Mexico with its multidisciplinary collections and educational programs, and its community-driven mission takes inspiration from its origins as a federal art center. Opened in 1937 as the Roswell Museum Federal Art Center, the institution we know and love as RMAC developed out of a WPA initiative designed to bring arts access and education to rural areas, minority populations, and other underserved communities. The Roswell Museum Federal Art Center maintained an active schedule of exhibitions and programming while also overseeing other WPA projects such as the local Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp. Through these activities, the Museum became an important community center bringing together different people through the appreciation of art and history, a role that continues to drive its mission today.

In recognition of the Museum’s significant WPA affiliations, Community-Minded explores our history as a federal art center. Drawn from the permanent collection as well as our archives, this exhibition will introduce visitors to the Community Art Center project while highlighting specific moments from the Roswell Museum’s history. Several examples of the Museum’s WPA furniture will be on display, along with works of art that were exhibited here during the 1930s and early 1940s, and examples of class schedules, exhibition checklists, and other documents in order to highlight the daily operations behind a community art center. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see mural studies, posters, and other pieces associated more broadly with the Federal Art Project, works that emphasize the scope of arts support during the WPA period. Through this selection of art works and ephemera, visitors will learn more about the early history of the Roswell Museum, and discover how its early programming continues to inform its mission today.

RMAC postcard exterior 1937-1938 web
The Roswell Museum Federal Art Center, c. 1937-1938. Roswell Museum and Art Center Archives