Mission & History

The Roswell Museum inspires discovery and creativity along with cultural understanding of the American Southwest and the greater community.


The Roswell Museum was founded in 1935 through an agreement between the City of Roswell, Works Progress Administration (WPA), Federal Art Project (FAP), Chaves County Archaeological and Historical Society, and the Roswell Friends of Art. The Museum opened in 1937, deriving its initial support from the WPA as part of a Depression era project to promote public art centers nationwide. Today, the Roswell Museum is among a handful of these Federal Art Centers that remain in operation. In its proposed plan, the WPA established that “the root of the community art center idea is participation by the entire community in all forms of art experience…” The stated purpose of the Museum was “to serve the art needs of Roswell [through] continuously changing exhibitions in the fine and practical arts, lectures and gallery talks [music programs and an art school where classes were offered free to the public]. From the outset, the Roswell Museum established itself as a cultural and educational locus for the community. When the WPA restructured in 1941, the City of Roswell assumed control of the Museum.

Since its initial emergence, the Roswell Museum has grown into a 50,000 square foot facility that includes twelve galleries dedicated to the exhibition of art and history, the Patricia Lubben Bassett Art Education Center, and the Robert H. Goddard Planetarium. The Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is southern New Mexico’s preeminent museum, lauded for the quality of its exhibitions, programs, and collections.

Core Values

The following core values are held as the essence of the Museum and our service to a unique community of visitors:


We believe in creating an atmosphere of inclusion and accessibility for all people.


We concentrate on building bridges to the multiple communities we serve, and value opportunities for community collaboration through education, entrepreneurship, and civic enterprise.


We strive to connect human experience, imagination, and creativity to the past, present, and future.


We respect, represent, and value our diverse community.


We are a public institution that celebrates its grassroots inception and national significance by presenting a link between local, regional, and world histories.


We expose people to a range of ideas that are meaningful to life.

Sense of Place

We help promote a sense of identity, pride, and belonging in our community.


We consistently work to preserve our public trust responsibilities through accountability in the stewardship of our financial assets, collections, and physical resources.
Art Center 1957
1930s Art Workshop