The mission of the Museums and Cultural Affairs Department (MCAD) is to assist in developing a world-class arts community in El Paso, Texas. To accomplish this goal the MCAD has established The Museums Division comprised of the El Paso Museum of Art, the El Paso Museum of Archaeology and the El Paso Museum of History, each dedicated to providing exhibitions and educational activities that recognize the region's multi-cultural heritage. The Cultural Affairs Division implements funding programs, public art programs, cultural tourism initiatives and performing/visual arts events that provide a variety of opportunities to engage in arts and cultural activities that enliven and celebrate the City of El Paso and the region. The Museums and Cultural Affairs Department is committed to the continued development of the City's arts industry, providing quality programs that are representative of the city's diverse cultures; and to maximizing available resources in order to enhance the City's cultural vitality.
MCAD was formed in 2005, through the consolidation of two previous departments with overlapping cultural missions: the Museums Department and Arts Resources. With combined histories, MCAD has 88 years of experience in providing quality cultural programming for El Pasoans and visitors. Since launching, MCAD has:
- Completed more than 60 public art projects with more than 30 in process
- Overhauled its grantmaking process to maximize transparency and disburse over $3.2 million to local artists and arts organizations
- Created a weekly Downtown Art and Farmers Market in Union Plaza
- Produced new opportunities for large scale festivals and programming showcasing the arts like Chalk the Block while formalizing longstanding summer concert series Music Under the Stars
- Secured State designation for the Downtown Arts District
- Endeavored to better align cultural work with larger economic development goals
- Sustained growth at three municipal museums that provide stewardship of over 18,000 items, traveling exhibitions and year-round programming
impact to el paso's economy
MCAD believes that the work of local artists, audiences, cultural practitioners and organizations are a critical part of a vibrant El Paso economy. A 2017 Americans for the Arts study examining the local non-profit arts sector’s support of the El Paso economy showed a $103.4 million annual impact. That figure includes:
- Support of 4,193 full-time equivalent jobs across sectors
- $24 million in restaurant and bar revenue
- $1.8 million in hotel/motel revenue
- $4.5 million in transportation revenue
- $5.9 million in local government revenue
The 2014 Creative Vitality Index conducted on El Paso’s arts and creative sector demonstrates that artists and individuals in the for-profit local creative workforce number over 8,500 and help generate $641 million in revenues.
Awards and Recognition
The El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA) was selected as
one of 10 recipients of the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Services
presented by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The National
Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service
to their communities that make significant and exceptional contributions to
their communities. EPMA was one of five museums to receive this recognition, and it is the only museum in Texas to be recognized.
MCAD's partnership with Destination El Paso was recognized by Americans for the Arts with a 2015 Arts Destination Marketing Award. Destination El Paso and MCAD was recognized for their successful decade long marketing partnership using the arts. DEP and MCAD worked to increase El Paso’s profile as a destination and showcase El Paso’s cultural offerings and arts organization for visitors.
The nation's only Digital Wall, DIGIE, at the El Paso Museum of History has also earned recognition from national museum groups. DIGIE received the 2016 MUSE Gold Award for Multimedia Installations from the American Alliance of Museums Media and Technology Professional Network. MUSE awards recognize outstanding achievement in Galleries, Libraries, Archives or Museums (GLAM) media. In 2015, DIGIE won the Technology Exhibit award from the Mountain Plains Museum Association and the silver award for interactive applications in the New Zealand Best Design Awards sponsored by the Designers Institute of New Zealand.
Chroma Booster was recognized by the Americans for the Arts as one of the nation’s Outstanding Public Arts Projects for 2015. This interactive sculpture was one of 38 outstanding public arts projects that were recognized through the Public Art Network’s Year in Review program. In 2017, Chroma Booster received an award of merit from the Illuminating Engineering Society for Lighting Design. The sculpture by Mathew Geller provides a focal point on the Pedestrian Pathway that links the Union Plaza Entertainment District and the Downtown Arts District.
The Cloud was recognized by the Americans for the Arts as one of the nation's Outstanding Public Arts Projects for 2016 through Public Art Network's Year in Review. Thousands of hinged, stainless steel flaps make up The Cloud. When wind fills the atmosphere, the flaps participate in a kinetic illusion mimicking the movement of actual clouds.
Not Whole Fence and Radiance were named to the 2017 CodaWorx list of the Top 100 Best Public Art Pieces in the World. CodaWorx recognizes public art that integrates art into an interior, architectural or public space. Radiance received one of two People's Choice Awards as part of the 2017 CODAawards.
Radiance is the centerpiece of the Airports new Rental Car Center. With numerous dichroic shapes suspended at various heights, Radiance forms a mandala-like structure twenty feet in diameter. Each hanging shape draws upon traditional patterns from ethnic groups that have contributed to El Paso’s rich and diverse culture.
Not Whole Fence was an aesthetic solution to the functional need to enclose the left field of Southwest University Park. This was achieved by creating a physical barrier that mimicked the wooden fences that surrounded ballparks at the turn of the 20th century.
Sun Pavilion received a 2018 CODA Award of Merit for Public Spaces. Sun Pavilion creates an iconic, destination shade structure for Blackie Chesher Park. Inspired by Hueco Tanks, an ancient Desert Archaic and Native American Cultural Site, patterns of indigenous plant species are illuminated by the ever-changing and ever-present sunlight during the day, and interior LED illumination at night.
Marquise received a 2019 CODA Award of Merit for Institutional Art. Marquise transforms a standard building entrance into a spatial experience and visual icon. Gridded curvilinear petals comprise the brightly-colored canopy as well as its self-supporting structural system. This billowing structure opens up where it touches the ground to form a seating area with benches, extending a point of entry into a welcoming social space.
MCAD programs and museums have been consistently recognized by local media for high quality programming. The El Paso Museum of Art and El Paso Museum of History have both been recognized by El Paso Inc. as the best museums or gallery in El Paso. Music Under the Stars has been honored as the Best Cheap Outing, Can't Miss Event and Best Event Series. Chalk the Block has been recognized as the Best Annual Event. Los Lagartos was selected as the Best Public Art Piece in the category introduced by What's Up in 2017.