Things worth knowing about the El Paso Museum of Art

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The El Paso Museum of Art makes its home in the heart of downtown El Paso in the world’s largest international border community. Because of this border community, we see art that is rich in the culture and reflects the surrounding areas and history. Many people visit the museum each year but many locals don’t know the unique facts, history or resources that the museum offers.

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Here are some things worth knowing about our El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA).

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1. Verified quality

This may be no surprise to locals, but the El Paso Museum of Art is the only accredited art museum within a 250-mile radius of El Paso. This means it meets the national standards and practices of the best museums.

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2. Crowdpleaser

Another fact about the museum is that since it opened in its downtown location in 1998, it serves more than 80,000 visitors per year. Read on to see why people love visiting our borderland treasure.

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2. Girl Power

The opening of the first El Paso Museum of Art exhibition took place on April 25, 1900, and was established by none other than The Woman’s Club of El Paso. It began in Chopin Hall, a small building downtown, which lead to the beginning of the Women’s Club of El Paso educating local school children about the arts. With idea pitching, fundraising and hard work, they were able to formulate a committee of art enthusiasts and pave the road toward the EPMA building that we have today.

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3 Kress five-and-dime stores’ connection to the arts

Have you ever strolled along Mills street downtown and experienced a blast from the past looking at beautiful historic Kress building? Well that very five-and-dime store is the reason why we have some of the most coveted paintings and sculptures by European masters in our El Paso Museum of Art. Samuel Henry Kress and the Samuel H. Kress foundation gathered one of the largest collections of art a personal buyer has ever amassed, and distributed his collection across the country. Because El Paso was already home to a Kress store, it was chosen to receive a 59-piece art collection. The donation was El Paso’s motivation to find an appropriate building for the expansion of art, so without Samuel Kress, we might never have the level and size of museum we have today.

Details about the prestigious Kress Collection can be researched at the Kress Foundation website: http://www.kressfoundation.org

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4. What was gifted

The Kress Collection is made up of work by European masters with the earliest being in the 1200’s but the majority of the work created between 1300 and 1800. The primary time periods featured are International Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo. The quality of the El Paso Kress collection is said to only be bested by the collection given to the National Art Gallery in Washington D.C. The El Paso Museum of Art has given the Kress Collection its own wing in the museum. Works include those by artists Sandro Botticelli, Bernardo Bellotto, Canaletto, Jusepe de Ribera, Giovanni di Paolo, Lavinia Fontana, Artemisia Gentileschi, Lorenzo Lotto and Bartolome Esteban Murillo.

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5. Exhibition Space

The EPMA has approximately 30,000 square feet of exhibition space which is used for 9 galleries. Of this space, one third is used for temporary exhibits while the permanent installations make up the majority of the exhibition space. The permanent art collection began with Tom Lea’s Pass of the North mural design in 1959 and is now made up of 6,000 works of art. The permanent collection galleries are made up by collections of European art, largely the Kress Collection, American art in the Richard and Frances Mithoff Gallery, Spanish Viceroyal art in the Dorrance and Olga Roderick Gallery of Mexican art of the 17th – 19th centuries; and the Tom Lea Gallery, Contemporary art and the art of the American Southwest.

Notable additions to the collection include:

  • Gustave Bauman’s Hollyhocks and Mountain, 1921
  • Diego Rivera’s Canyon, 1934
  • Juán Sánchez Salmerón’s Ecce Homo, c. 1700
  • Tom Lea’s Rio Grande, 1954
  • Rembrandt Peale’s Girl at a Window, Portrait of Rosalba, 1846

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6. Artist resources

The EPMA began a cooperative project which joins the The El Paso Public Library and all major library branches in El Paso with the El Paso Museum of Art Library or the Algur H. Meadows Library. This provides the community with a vast catalog of art resources totaling 4,000 books now. The Museum of Art Library aims to be a comfortable environment and reference center where local artists, interested scholars and educators can conduct research and study.

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7. Official Blue Star Museum

The efforts of The National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and museums across America combined have made the El Paso Museum of Art an official Blue Star Museum. This means that between Memorial Day through Labor Day, all active duty military and their families can attend the museum for free. Because the museum is already free to the public, the perk is that some fee based exhibits may be offered to active duty military and their families for free or at reduced price based on the museums preference.

Learn more at: https://www.arts.gov/national/blue-star-museums#!TX

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