After months of pandemic closures, the museums in Las Cruces are again open for visitors and feature many new exhibits to be enjoyed. Las Cruces is home to four museums operated by the City of Las Cruces plus the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum. If you have visitors for the holidays, be sure to take them to experience our art, history, and heritage.
Las Cruces Museum of Art
Be among the first to see Allure of the Near East: Treasures of the Huntington Museum of Art, a traveling exhibit with its first stop in Las Cruces. On exhibit now through January 22, 2022, this exhibition explores the arts and crafts traditions of the Near East and the West’s historical fascination with its decorative items.
Comprising works of fine glassware, ceramics, metalwork, painting, weaponry, weaving, and much more, Allure of the Near East shares 45 timeless treasures from a region in which everyday life, history, and culture contains many parallels to our own. The works, some of which are centuries old, include objects meant for palaces as well as ordinary homes, evoking a rich and comprehensive vision of daily life in the Near East, both recent and long ago.
The Museum of Art is located at 491 N. Main St. next to the Branigan Cultural Center and is open Tuesday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Find more information on all the city museums and ongoing special programs at las-cruces.org/museums.
Branigan Cultural Center
This museum housed the city’s first library, financed by the Branigan family (hence the ongoing confusion between the Branigan Cultural Center and the Branigan Memorial Library). The cultural center re-opened October 1 after renovations and installation of new exhibits. Showing now through summer of next year is Cleared for Take Off: Aviation in Southern New Mexico. This exhibit, created by museum staff, tells the history of aviation in our area, beginning with the use of military airplanes after Pancho Villa’s raid on Columbus, New Mexico. Photographs, oral histories, and historic objects show the history of aviation training programs from World War II through the heyday of “flying clubs.”
The Branigan Cultural Center is located at 501 N. Main St. and is open Tuesday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Las Cruces Museum of Nature and Science
This is the perfect place to bring the kids and anyone who loves to explore science. MoNaS is home to 50 species of fascinating fish, reptiles, amphibians, and other creatures native to the Southwest. In addition, examine preserved footprints from the Paleozoic trackways that provide evidence of creatures that lived here before the dinosaurs. Explore Earth with the Magic Planet interactive exhibit, see a reproduction of Pluto-discoverer Clyde Tombaugh’s original telescope-on-wheels (he built it on the body of an old lawnmower for easy transportation outside to scour the skies), and much more.
The Museum of Nature and Science is located at 411 N. Main Street, adjoining the Museum of Art, and is open Tuesday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. MoNaS offers a wide range of family activities as well.
Las Cruces Railroad Museum
This is another great place for the young and young at heart. The city’s one-time railroad depot, built in the Santa Fe style, is now home to a museum that’s like stepping back in time to when folks came to town aboard a train. Wander the rooms of the old depot to check out exhibits of everything from luggage to telegraph equipment. Everyone will love the model train layouts and the caboose!
The Railroad Museum is located at 351 N. Mesilla St. at Las Cruces Avenue and is open Tuesday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum
This state-operated museum explores the history of agriculture in New Mexico, which began with Indigenous people 4,000 years ago. It features both indoor exhibits and much to explore outdoors, including visiting the cattle, sheep, and horses. You can also enjoy weekday fiber arts demonstrations (10 a.m. – noon). Farm animals in New Mexico had to survive tough conditions, so you’ll learn about those that worked well here, including churro sheep, raised by the Navajo for their wool and meat, and corriente cattle (you can even download coloring pages of the museum’s livestock!). To make it even easier to visit and learn about the livestock, 20-minute guided golf-cart tours of the museum’s South 20 are available most days.
In addition to several permanent exhibits explaining how Indigenous people lived and farmed here, the changes brought by the Spanish, and then more recent farm and ranch life, the museum has many semi-permanent and temporary exhibits. One hallway features the work of regional artists. Another has charcoal studies by famed New Mexico artist Peter Hurd, and yet another explores how mills would grind grain. Learn how World War II dramatically changed the lives of ranchers in the exhibit Home on the Range: From Ranches to Rockets. Visitors will learn about ranch life in the Tularosa Basin during the early 20th century and how events taking place halfway around the world brought about changes that, for many local ranchers, were permanent. The area eventually became White Sands Missile Range, which to this day draws some of the world’s greatest minds in science and engineering.
The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum is located at 4100 Dripping Springs Blvd. and is open Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Call 575-422-4100 for additional information or go to nmfarmandranchmuseum.org.
New Mexico State University (NMSU) Museums
NMSU is home to several museums, and some, like the Arthropod Museum and Klipsch Museum, are open only by appointment. You can see the Zuhl Collection of petrified wood, fossils, and minerals, or try the University Museum to learn about regional culture and history. The University Art Museum in the new Devasthali Hall presents numerous exhibits each year. To learn more about the NMSU museums, visit the website at nmsu.edu/about_nmsu/Museums_and_Collections.html.
Be sure to confirm hours of operation before visiting any of these museums and to comply with current New Mexico COVID restrictions.
There are many other museums in Southern New Mexico again ready for visitors. Here are some you can explore. Be sure to check their current status before visiting.
Carlsbad Museum and Art Center
418 W. Fox St., Carlsbad
Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Free admission; donations welcome
301 S. Silver Ave., Deming
Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Free admission; donations welcome
Geronimo Springs Museum
211 Main Ave., Truth or Consequences
Thursday – Monday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Sunday 12 – 4 p.m.
Hamilton Military Museum at Veterans Park
996 S. Broadway, Truth or Consequences
Tuesday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Sunday 12 – 4 p.m.
International UFO Museum & Research Center
114 N. Main St., Roswell
Adults $5; children 5 – 15 $2; seniors, military, and first responders: $3
Open daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
New Mexico Museum of Space History
3198 State Route 2001, Alamogordo
Wednesday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Roswell Museum & Art Center
1011 N. Richardson Ave., Roswell
Admission prices range from free for those 15 and younger to $10 for non-Roswell residents
Open daily 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Silver City Museum
312 W. Broadway, Silver City
Free admission; donations welcome
Tuesday – Friday 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Western New Mexico University Museum
1000 W College Ave., Silver City
Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Written by Cheryl Fallstead
Originally published in Neighbors magazine.
Posted by LasCruces.com