Since 1937, the Roswell Museum and Art Center has enriched southeast New Mexico through its multidisciplinary collections and education programs. Its community-minded focus reflects its origins with the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Originally known as the Roswell Museum Federal Art Center, this institution developed out of a collaboration between the Chaves County Archaeological and Historical Society, now known as the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico, and the Federal Art Project. It participated in a national initiative known as the Community Art Center Project, which provided arts access to rural communities and other underserved populations through rotating exhibitions, free art classes, and other programs. Dozens of community art centers opened around the country between 1935 and 1942, and while many of them closed during World War II, the Roswell Museum and a few others survived, often evolving into new institutions. As a former community art center still in operation, the Roswell Museum represents an important, living example of WPA history and its ongoing cultural legacy.
This project explores the early history of the Roswell Museum and represents a preliminary effort toward the digitization of its WPA archive. To encourage individual exploration and discovery, the materials are presented in a nonlinear fashion.