The Roswell Museum Federal Art Center

An Art Center Opens

The Roswell Museum Federal Art Center opened to the public on October 6, 1937. At the time of its opening, the interior remained unfinished, but the museum had wanted to accommodate visitors attending the annual New Mexico State Fair, Roswell’s most well-attended cultural event. The official dedication would happen in December.

A multipurpose building, the original museum included a main gallery with a performance stage, a smaller gallery dedicated primarily to archaeological materials, an administrative office, and a ladies’ lounge. The main gallery hosted traveling exhibitions, while the archaeological room highlighted materials from local digs and area collections. The furnishings were designed by Domingo Tejada, a wood carver and artist from Taos. Tinsmith Eddie Delgado provided the tin light fixtures.

As a federal art center, the Roswell Museum processed large amounts of paperwork pertaining to exhibitions, classes, and daily operations. Directors completed monthly reports covering exhibition attendance, meetings, educational initiatives, and other activities. Other staff submitted time sheets and individual reports. These forms constitute the bulk of the archive. The chart below shows the typical paperwork for a traveling exhibition, in this instance for a show called Drawings from California


All documents below come from the Roswell Museum and Art Center's WPA archive.

Russell Vernon Hunter to Donald McKay, December 1937.
Robert Sprague to Thomas Parker, January 24, 1938.
Robert Sprague to Thomas Parker, January 25, 1938.
“Social News,” Roswell Daily Record, December 11, 1937, A5. 
Roland Dickey to Thomas Parker, August 1, 1938.
Robert Sprague, “Robert Sprague Writes About Roswell’s Museum,” Roswell Daily Record, December 11, 1937, A1.
Roland Dickey to Russell Vernon Hunter, June 10, 1939.

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