Las Cruces offers an extensive array of museums that display and showcase an array of sculptures, fine art, paintings, photographs and historical artifacts. Here, visitors have the chance to not only observe the talents of many gifted artisans, but also to learn about the history, culture and diversity of our people and how all these factors work to inspire their creativity.Las Cruces’ exciting history and rich culture have always been an inspiration for local artists. Las Cruces and Mesilla have more than 50 art galleries and museums, with collections honoring the history, heritage and landscape of southern New Mexico.
The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum offers visitors a chance to relive New Mexico’s 3,000-year-old agricultural history. Museum exhibits feature ancient tools, artifacts, and living quarters dating back to the first farming tribes in the state. Outside, check out longhorn cattle, sheep and donkeys, or visit the dairy barn for more history about the dairy industry in New Mexico.
The Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum provides a tremendous amount of local and regional history, but if 3,000 years is not far enough back, stop by the Museum of Natural & Science. Here, visitors can encounter exciting displays on topics such as global processes, astronomy, the Chihuahuan Desert, principles of physical and environmental science, and the Permian Trackways. The museum is part of a cultural complex of three buildings, along with the Las Cruces Museum of Art and the Branigan Cultural Center. Together these institutions play an important part of the redevelopment of Main Street, and the revitalization of downtown Las Cruces.Other area museums include the Las Cruces Art Art, featuring rotating exhibits of some of the world’s most famous artists. Previous exhibitions include Ansel Adams, Salvador Dali, Rodin and, most recently, a collection of art work commissioned by NASA featuring artists like Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell, Annie Leibovitz and William Wegman, among many others.
New Mexico State University has several museums and galleries showcasing everything from student art to prehistoric fossils. The University Art Gallery in Williams Hall is often considered the largest contemporary art gallery in southern New Mexico with one of the world’s largest collections of Mexican retablos. The Corbett Center Gallery specializes in the work of graduate and undergraduate students. The New Mexico State University Museum features rotating exhibits focusing on the social and natural sciences, humanities and folk arts of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. And the Zuhl Geological Collection – one of the best-kept secrets in all of Las Cruces – is a permanent and professionally curated display of petrified wood, minerals, fossils and geological artifacts at New Mexico State University. On display at the New Mexico State University Alumni and Visitors Center, the displays enable viewers to see the beauty that is discovered when petrified wood is cut and polished, which highlights the mineral content – minerals that replaced the wood fibers of buried wood gradually over millions of years. Other items include exceptional examples of minerals, crystals and fossils. These specimen are the lifetime legacy of Las Cruces residents Herb and Joan Zuhl, who have collected these items for more than 30 years and maintained a gallery in Manhattan before retiring to Las Cruces.
Located next to the Las Cruces Art Museum, the Branigan Cultural Center features artwork from some of Las Cruces’ finest artists as well as historical photos and artifacts chronicling Las Cruces’ colorful past. and the Museum of Nature and Science takes visitors on a journey into our prehistoric past along with a exhibits that showcase outer space.
The historic town of Mesilla also offers visitors a chance to view traditional and contemporary art in nearly 15 galleries in and around the historic plaza, including the Mesilla Valley Fine Art Gallery, displaying Southwestern landscapes, still lifes, paintings, photography and pottery.