Museum Mission

The University Museum at New Mexico State University creates opportunities to explore human experiences—past, present, and future. Through the preservation of material culture, exhibitions, teaching, research, and collaborative outreach, the University Museum focuses on the relational connections between New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, the state of New Mexico, the US-Mexico border region, and the diversity of the world’s cultures beyond.
As an integral part of New Mexico State University’s Department of Anthropology, the mission of the University Museum derives from anthropological approaches to museums and material culture, and is consistent with the mission of New Mexico State University. The museum furthers New Mexico State University’s role as a public educational and research institution by preserving and holding collections in the public trust while actively promoting knowledge of the diverse historical, contemporary, local, and global cultural heritage.
Main entrance of the University Museum

What We Do

Preservation: The University Museum is dedicated to acquiring and preserving collections of material culture, and holding these collections in the public trust. The museum only acquires collections in line with its stated mission. It strives to meet the highest standards of responsible stewardship, documentation, and care to preserve these collections (and the knowledge associated with them) for future generations.
Exhibitions: The University Museum uses interpretive exhibitions to provide opportunities for diverse audiences to engage with informal education about local and global cultural heritage. Staff, faculty, student, and affiliated scholar curators implement a mixture of permanent, semi-permanent, and rotating exhibitions based on original and participatory research with visiting scholars, indigenous experts, and other cultural heritage specialists and institutions. These exhibitions make the museum an active, knowledge producing center in the local and regional community.
Teaching: The University Museum offers curriculum in methodological and theoretical approaches to material culture in museums through the Department of Anthropology, and enhances instructional activities across other NMSU academic units by creating collaborative and experiential object-based learning opportunities. The museum also provides formal coursework in Museum Studies and helps train undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of disciplines--including anthropology, art, museum conservation, and public history--for future careers in museums and public heritage management. The museum makes its collections available for coursework, along with the expertise of its staff.
Research: The University Museum conducts original research and creative activities utilizing the museum's collections, and facilitates research by students, faculty, and scholars both within and outside the university. Through independent and collaborative research with other NMSU departments, private/state/federal/international organizations, other universities and museums, and outside researchers, the University Museum engages with diverse disciplines and supports the production and dissemination of knowledge.
Outreach and Collaboration: As a relational space, the University Museum uses collections and museum practices to form relationships and create learning opportunities centered on cultural heritage. The museum integrates with local, state, national, and global communities by developing collaborative partnerships, producing scalable K-12 programming, facilitating access, and offering public events. The museum opens its experiences to the broadest possible audiences.

Land Acknowledgement

As the state’s Land-Grant University, we acknowledge and respect the sovereign Indian Nations and Indigenous Peoples. We pledge to have a meaningful and respectful relationship with the sovereign Indian Nations, Indigenous communities, and Native American Peoples within the institution, as well as with the Indigenous people and their descendants that created material culture now cared for by the University Museum.

New Mexico State University honors Native American knowledges and worldviews based on the Indigenous communities native to this region and intimate relationships to the natural world. The genesis of the Southwest Indigenous Peoples, including the Pueblo, Navajo (Diné), and Apache, established their guardianship of the lands now occupied by New Mexico State University and the University Museum.