El Paso Art and Culture

El Paso Art and Culture

El Paso Art and Culture

El Paso Museum of Art.
Photo by Marty Snortum Studios.

In El Paso, artsy types can find folk art, classical music, and everything in between.

To start your journey, look no further than El Paso Museum of Art. Its 6,000-piece permanent collection reflects the city's diverse interests and includes American, European, and Mexican art. Touring shows spotlight regional and national talents, particularly contemporary works from the Southwest. Check the museum's schedule for artist talks and films. Nearby, the El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center is a hub for billboardworthy acts and hosts several summer art events.

The Abraham Chavez Theatre raises the curtain on Spotlight El Paso's concert season. Formerly known as El Paso Community Concerts, it has expanded from classical music to Broadway shows and dance performances.

The intricate 1930s Plaza Theatre is a work of art in itself. It hosts film festivals, standup comedy, and concerts. Also dating to the 1930s, El Paso Symphony is the oldest performing arts organization in town and the longest continuously running symphony orchestra in the Lone Star State. Its musicians present a dozen classical concerts annually.

El Paso Pro-Musica, a chamber orchestra and choir group, mounts an October to April season with concerts at El Paso Museum of Art and the UTEP campus. Its January chamber music festival speaks to artists from across the country. El Paso Opera similarly draws artists and opera fans for its professional productions — and educational programs for novice opera-goers.


Start your tour with the interactive El Paso Museum of History, where the city's past comes to life on Digie, a 3-D digital touchscreen with more than 6,000 photos, films, and text that tell the borderland's patchwork history. Inside, the museum showcases similar techno-centric exhibitions dedicated to indigenous culture, Wild West mavericks, and the city's role in the Mexican revolution.

Also situated downtown, the Magoffin Home State Historic Site's 19-room adobe is considered a prime example of Territorial architecture, which combines local adobe with Victorian-style trim. The 1875 home of pioneer, politician, and civic leader Joseph Magoffin illustrates the lives of homesteaders and traders along the Santa Fe–Chihuahua Trail.

The field trip–friendly Centennial Museum explores the Southwest's history, from prehistoric feathered dinosaurs and Meso-American ritual ceremonial displays to the lives of early settlers. The geology collection is rockin' — apropos for El Paso's first museum, established in 1936 on the campus of the College of Mines, now UTEP — with approximately 73,000 items.

While exploring Franklin Mountains State Park, stop in El Paso Museum of Archaeology, which traces the region's Native American heritage with artifacts and pottery and spotlights Chihuahuan Desert plants in a 15-acre garden.

In 1849, Fort Bliss was an insolated frontier military post. Since then it has served as the command center for the capture of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa and as a World War II training center. Today, the 1.1 million acre base is the second-largest military installation of the U.S. Army, and its history is displayed in a handful of Fort Bliss museums, including the Old Fort Bliss Museum, where visitors wander through replicas of the original adobe forts. Antiaircraft guns are the marquee attractions at the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery Museum, while airplanes take center stage at the Fort Bliss Museum and Study Center.

Pay your respects at the Buffalo Soldiers' Monument, built to honor African-American regiments garrisoned at the base when opening the western frontier, and the Fort Bliss National Cemetery.

Border agents get their due at the National Border Patrol Museum — the only of its kind in the United States.

Know Before You Go

Fort Bliss has five visitor control centers, and all visitors must receive a 30-day pass at one before continuing on to the base. To receive a pass, adults must present a state-issued driver's license, passport, or ID. Drivers must also show proof of vehicle registration and insurance. The museums are open Monday through Friday (excluding federal holidays).

Don't Miss: 2018 Arts & Culture Happenings

Cool Canyon Nights, May–July
Escape the city heat in breathtaking McKelligon Canyon Amphitheatre on Thursday nights for free concerts, food trucks, and craft beer.

Alfresco! Fridays, May–September
These free, outdoor concerts overflow Convention Center Plaza with jazz, cumbia, country, reggae, and classic rock acts.

Neon Desert Music Festival, May 26–27
This festival brings headlining acts to downtown on five stages for two days of live music.

Music Under the Stars, June–July
This family-friendly world music concert series on Sundays boasts performances by local and international artists in salsa, bluegrass, and rock. The free performances include a patriotic concert with a firework spectacular on the Fourth of July.

Plaza Classic Film Festival, Aug. 2–18
Billed as the world's largest classic film festival.

Movies in the Canyon, August–October
Grab the fam and a blanket for this free movie series on Fridays and Saturdays at McKelligon Canyon Amphitheatre.

Viva! El Paso, August–October
History lives on in drama, dance, and song against the backdrop of McKelligon Canyon in this vibrant musical celebration featuring 50 performers, four centuries, and four cultures.

Mercedes-Benz of El Paso Fashion Week, Oct. 15–21
Designers showcase their latest fashions in runway shows.

El Paso Chamber Music Festival, January 2019
El Paso Pro-Musica brings world-renowned artists to town.