Staff Report September 2, 2018Local NewsComments Off on El Paso Museum of Archaeology to Close for Renovations This Week
Starting September 9, the Museums and Cultural Affairs Department will close the El Paso Museum of Archaeology for renovations.
“This project will improve our restrooms and parking lot to ensure ADA compliance,” said Museums and Cultural Affairs Department Director Tracey Jerome. “We will also install additional emergency exits in the galleries and the collection storage space will be expanded. These upgrades to the facility will support our mission of serving all sectors of the public with enhanced visitor amenities.”
The museum will undergo capital improvements that include expanding the hallway, remodeling of staff breakroom, parking lot improvements and other enhancements.
While renovations are underway, visitors may still park in front of the museum to use the walking and hiking trails.
Improvements are being funded with Quality of Life bonds approved by voters in 2012. The El Paso Museum of Archaeology is expected to re-open in mid-November.
For more information, visit call the Museums and Cultural Affairs Department at (915) 212-0110 or visit the archaeology museum website or Facebook page
Guest Columnist August 6, 2018NewsComments Off on Gallery+Story: Fort Bliss Archaeology Preservation A Team Effort
About two years ago, Belinda Mollard, a senior archaeologist at Fort Bliss, was escorting officials from the Army’s Installation Management Command to an archaeological site on post when two Soldiers approached and demanded to know what they were doing.
Their actions delighted her.
“It showed that all our education efforts were paying off,” Mollard said.
Mollard, whose official title is Cultural Resources Manager, Senior Archaeologist and Tribal Liaison for the Fort Bliss Garrison Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division, is one of a team of five archaeologists who manage the roughly 20,600 archaeological sites on the 1.12 million acres of Fort Bliss.
The sites span from the Paleoindian period, or about 10,000 BC, through the Cold War years of 1947 through 1991, but most of them concern the Jornada Mogollon, who were in the area from about 200-1450 AD.
Members of the archaeology team try to visit the sites as much as possible to monitor them, but Soldiers can also help in a variety of ways – including by politely approaching people they see in areas around the sites.
Another way is to leave sites undisturbed, Mollard said.
“Rock art is very fragile, so the oils from our hands, and especially lotions, sunscreens, perfumes, things like that, that will actually destroy the rock art faster than natural processes,” Mollard said. “So we ask people not to touch rock art for sure, but even at the sites, we ask you not to touch anything or pick anything up.”
If Soldiers think they might have found a new site or human remains, they should leave everything undisturbed and contact installation officials, Mollard said.
“As a people, we’ve been here a long time,” Mollard said. “We do have human remains that pop up every now and then, so we just ask, ‘Please just let us know.’”
The installation has two environmental liaisons for the training ranges: Shane Offutt and David Black, Mollard said. Offutt is a trained archaeologist with a military background, and Black is a biologist, but both are knowledgeable about potential issues.
“Chances are we know there’s a site there and we just ask them to just shift half a click to the east or a click to the west if there’s a big concentration,” Mollard said.
It’s important to let officials know if someone has found remains, Mollard said.
“If you see something you think is bone, you need to tell us,” Mollard said. “You need to let us know right away. I always tell them it’s not their job to investigate, it’s mine.”
It doesn’t matter what time of the day or night it is, Mollard said.
“A lot of times we’ll get a call, and I don’t mind, I’ll come out at midnight on a Friday or three o’clock in the morning on a Saturday, to make sure it’s coyote,” Mollard said. “That’s fine with me. I’d rather do that than have somebody decide to go and investigate and find out it is human.”
Two caves on Fort Bliss illustrate the importance of properly preserving archaeological resources, Mollard said. They are in close proximity, and one features well preserved, iconic rock art from the Jornada Mogollon period, and the other features mostly obscene graffiti from the 1970s.
“When you look at the archaeological history of this site and look at all the stuff that went on here, and then this is what happened because it wasn’t protected, it’s kind of a shame,” Mollard said of the site with the graffiti during a monitoring visit July 19. “We do the best we can now, but there’s nothing we can really do to reverse this.”
Mollard said the archaeology office works with seven federally recognized tribes – the Mescalero Apache, the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, the Pueblo of Isleta, the Fort Sill Apache, the Kiowa, the Comanche Nation and the White Mountain Apache – to preserve sites and allow tribal members access when possible.
Tribal members realize that eventually the rock art, for example, will be gone due to natural erosion, but it is still important to protect the sites, Mollard said.
“It’s a delicate balance of how we protect the site,” Mollard said. “We don’t want to stop the natural course of the site, but we do want to stop people from coming up and spray painting.”
Although Fort Bliss archaeological sites are off limits to the public, people can learn more about archaeology in the Fort Bliss area at the El Paso Museum of Archaeology at 4301 Woodrow Bean Transmountain Drive.
Also, at the Hueco Tanks State Historic Site (6900 Hueco Tanks Road) people can take self-guided or staff-guided tours of pictographs and petroglyphs, and at the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in Silver City, New Mexico, people can visit preserved cliff dwellings of the Mogollon people, cousins of the Jornada Mogollon.
Author: Wendy Brown – Fort Bliss Garrison Public Affairs
The Museums and Cultural Affairs Department is hosting summer camps at three of its museums; El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso Museum of History and El Paso Museum of Archaeology.
“We want to encourage our young people to access and use our museums, and our summer camps are fun ways they can explore archaeology, history or art,” said Director of the Museums and Cultural Affairs Department Tracey Jerome. “By providing opportunities like this, we can create a life-long love of our museums and help the youth in our community develop and explore their interests.”
Officials added, “each camp offers age appropriate curriculum that is both fun and educational. The camps are a great opportunity to let young El Pasoans discover what the museums have to offer.”
Activities include learning about the tools and science used by archaeologists, exploring El Paso’s history, and creating masterpieces using different artistic mediums.
The El Paso Museum of Art summer classes start June 26. The El Paso Museum of Archaeology will host two sessions the week of June 19 and July 24. The El Paso Museum of History will host camps starting the week of July 10 through the week of August 7.
Summer camp prices vary by location and activity, and members at the respective museums will receive discounted tuition.
Participants in camps and classes at the El Paso Museum of History and the El Paso Museum of Art are also eligible to sign up for Sun Metro’s Kids on the Go program that provides free bus rides to area youth participating in cultural, educational or recreational activities during the summer.
More information on the Summer Camps is available on the events page of the El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department website.
Staff Report March 25, 2018LifestyleComments Off on El Paso Museum of Archaeology Hosts Three New Public Exhibits
With three new exhibits spanning the entire Southwest, from Hopi lands to the Mission Valley, the El Paso Museum of Archaeology invites the public to to view the new artifacts.
Artifacts from Local Excavation
The mini exhibition explains the history of El Paso’s missions. It includes artifacts that were recovered from local archaeological explorations from the mid-1980s when UTEP excavated at the old Socorro Mission site.
The artifacts have been loaned to the museum from the personal collection of Joe Ledesma, who owns the land where the original Socorro Mission was located. The museum is hosting an open house for the exhibition at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 14.
The artifacts will be on display for the next two years.
Casas Grandes Resurgence: The Early Potters of Mata Ortiz
The exhibition is comprised of portraits of many of the early potters and participants of trade in the antiquities market and is taken from the work of Fabiola Silva, archaeologist, and Sterling Trantham, documentary photographer. The exhibit features pieces from the museum’s own collection of early Mata Ortiz pottery and groundbreaking work of Diego Valles, a member of the next generation of Mata Ortiz potters.
The exhibit is on display through June 23.
Children of the Hisatsinom: The Artistic Tradition of the Hopi
The exhibition takes a look at the ancient times of the Hopi people, or Hopituh Shi-nu-mu (the peaceful people) who lived in the Southwest maintaining their sacred covenant with Maasaw, the keeper of the earth. The Hopi lived as peaceful farmers who were respectful of the land and its resources.
The Hopi communicated elements of their culture and traditions through many of the art forms showcased in this exhibition. Objects on view are from the museum’s permanent collection and on loan from private collections.
Staff Report December 12, 2017LifestyleComments Off on City Invites Residents to Spend Holidays at the Museums
The City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department invites everyone to spend the holiday season visiting one of the City’s three museums; El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso Museum of History and the El Paso Museum Archaeology.
All three museums will be open regular hours through the winter holidays with free family-friendly exhibitions. In observance of the Christmas and New Year’s holiday, all three museums will be closed on Monday, December 25, and Monday, January 1.
The El Paso Museum of Archaeology offers archery or atl-atl demonstrations on Saturday mornings. The trails around the museum are open for family-friendly hikes.
The El Paso Museum of History is hosting two free preservation workshops as part of the new exhibition, What We Brought. This exhibition explores what people brought with them when they relocated to El Paso. Visitors can learn how to preserve their family heirlooms during the special workshops. Visitors are encouraged to bring an item to preserve. The workshops are at 2 p.m. December 27 and at 5 p.m. December 28.
The El Paso Museum of Art has several free, ongoing exhibitions as well as drop-in activities during open studio hours from noon to 2 p.m. December 26 through 29. Each of the workshops are designed for visitors 4 years and older and features an art making activity tied to the museum’s current exhibitions.
Build It Family Workshop, Tuesday, December 26, build homes and buildings with LEGO bricks inspired by the exhibition, Frank Lloyd Wright: Architecture of the Interior.
Print It Family Workshop, Wednesday, December 27, discover the exhibition Gardens of Earthly and Unearthly Delights and create a watercolor monoprint using leaves and flower petals.
Make It Family Workshop, Thursday, December 28, Frank Lloyd Wright’s work was inspired by nature. See the exhibition, Frank Lloyd Wright: Architecture of the Interior and create your own stained glass window cling.
Paint It Family Workshop, Friday, December 20, make a watercolor masterpiece inspired by works from the exhibition, Tom Lea Watercolors and Washes
“We are excited to host members of the Tigua community from Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo as part of our Native American Heritage month celebrations. This is a great opportunity for our visitors to learn about the different cultures that make up El Paso,” said El Paso Museum of Archaeology Director Jeff Romney.
The Tigua of Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo are descendants of refugees from the Río Abajo or lower Rio Grande pueblos who were forced to march south to El Paso with the Spanish during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
The settlement established for them was named Ysleta Del Sur, or Ysleta of the South, to distinguish it from their former home in Isleta, New Mexico, near what is now Albuquerque.
Native American Heritage has been recognized by the United States in various ways since 1976 when President Gerald Ford proclaimed a week in October as Native American Awareness Week.
The event is free and open to the public. Event activities include archery, atl-atl demonstrations, Tigua dances, Tigua bread sampling, films, craft demonstrations and vendor booths.
November was proclaimed Native American Heritage Month in 1990.
For more information on this event, contact the El Paso Museum of Archaeology at (915) 755-4332.
Staff Report October 19, 2017Local NewsComments Off on Museum of Archaeology Celebrates International Archaeology Day
The El Paso Museum of Archaeology invites the public to celebrate International Archaeology Day at the museum from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 21.
“Texas Archaeology Month and International Archaeology Day provide us with a great opportunity to introduce people to this science with activities that will let them get their hands dirty,” said Director of the El Paso Museum of Archaeology Jeff Romney.
Visitors can enjoy archery, mock excavations and other hands-on activities.
There will also be a live pottery firing demonstration and films in the museum auditorium. International Archaeology Day also falls within Texas Archaeology Awareness Month.
Staff Report October 13, 2017NewsComments Off on El Paso Museum of Archaeology Celebrates its 40th Anniversary Sunday
The El Paso Museum of Archaeology (EPMArch) first opened its doors on October 12, 1977 during the administration of Mayor Don Henderson. To celebrate, the museum will host a family day on Sunday, October 15, 2017, from 12– 4 p.m.
The afternoon will be filled with archery, Tigua and Mexican Folk dance performances, films, hands-on activities, food truck vendors and more. Admission to the celebration is free, and parking is available at the National Border Patrol Museum next door.
Over the past four decades the Museum has provided exhibitions, educational programs, and public events to the El Paso community and has been visited by an estimated 1,200,000 patrons. Today the Museum cares for 4,500 objects in its permanent collection, of which 600 are on display at any given time.
Tours and educational programs are provided for over 3,000 school children each year who learn about 12,000 years of prehistory in the El Paso region. The Museum continues to offer a vigorous line up of lectures, camps, classes, exhibitions, festivals, and archaeological conferences, promoting greater cultural awareness and appreciation for Native American cultures and traditions.
Nearly a mile of nature trails also offer visitors a chance to see and learn about over 200 native plant and animal species against the backdrop of our beautiful mountains. EPMArch currently serves 26,000 visitors per year.
Steven Cottingham September 23, 2017NewsComments Off on Gallery+Story: El Paso Museum of Archaeology Set to Celebrate 40th Anniversary
I’ve always had an interest in history; and El Paso, Juarez and Las Cruces has some of the most interesting history I’ve ever learned.
The first Thanksgiving was here, Conrad Hilton opened his first high-rise hotel here, the Margarita is from El Paso (okay, allegedly from El Paso).
There have been people living in this area for a very long time. In Huceo Tanks the history of people living out here goes back thousands of years. It is a long and storied history, the story of El Paso.
The El Paso Museum of Archaeology has been working, since 1976, to tell the story of our area. Dioramas, pottery, as well as classes, talks, and hands on events are used to tell that story.
When I was younger, and had just received my driver’s license, the Museum of Archaeology was one of my favorite places to go.
I would spend part of my day just walking through the displays, then the afternoon hiking in the surrounding mountains, wondering what it was like to live one-hundred, one-thousand, or even eons ago. Those trips were the basis for quite a few of my poems and stories.
“Originally,” Jeff Romney, the director of the museum share with me, “this location was somewhat isolated.”
It was, for the longest time, the only thing there on Transmountain was the museum. The sounding areas, below the freeway, were mostly vacant. Even the grounds, when I was younger, reflected the area: a parking lot, and not much else.
Today, the Museum of Archaeology is not just indoors. They now have programs that take one outside the building to learn, and gain some hands-on experience.
“We offer an opportunity to come out,” said Jeff. “Experience, and learn about 14,000 years of pre-history to modern day Pueblo culture”
First, the Museum has a collection of over 4,500 objects. “These,” says Jeff Romney, “come from various cultures and time periods.”
The bulk of the Museum’s collection comes from the Casas Grandes culture. You will also find items from the western cost of Mexico, the Tarahumara Indians, and others.
“We have our wildness park component,” Jeff said. “We have 15 acers of trails where you can learn about 200 species of native plants.”
You’ll learn about the plants and how they were used by ancient cultures: medicine, food, clothing. These plans had many uses to those peoples.
“We have archery events,” said Jeff. “You can come out and shoot a bow and arrow, which is an ancient technology still used today.” Each Saturday you can go out and experience how ancient cultures would hunt, and defend themselves through archery.
According to Jeff Romney the Museum will also be incorporating art into the telling of the history. “These people didn’t disappear,” he says. “In most cases they are still with us. Part of telling the story is working with our Native American Communities.”
The Museum will be bringing in Native artists, like Socorro Linden who is a Tarahumara Indian. Socorro’s works will be shown as a juxtaposition of old, and modern interpretations of their cultures art.
“Come out and see us,” invites Jeff. “We have a lot to do, a lot to see, a lot to experience.”
The Museum has activities for everyone, regardless of age. In fact, this October marks their fortieth anniversary, so there is much planed!
“Come and learn about El Paso’s pre-history,” continued Jeff. “Come and learn about our Native American Communities, both those who are still with us and who lived here in the past. It’s an important part of our history, and we are here to tell it.” There is so much coming up.
Starting June 4, the El Paso Museum of Archaeology, located at 4301 Transmountain, will be open on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.
“We are excited to welcome visitors once again to the Museum on Sundays. This provides further opportunities for our community to learn about the cultures that helped influence the development of the El Paso region. This also brings us back in line with the same operating hours as the City’s other two museums and will allow us to better serve the community,” said Museum of Archaeology Director Jeff Romney.
“Over the past two years, we have made investments to enhance the visitor experience at the Museum of Archaeology. We brought in a full-time director, repaired the trails on the Museum grounds and partnered with Parks and Recreation to construct a beautiful gazebo that can be used for museum programs or other events. Extending the hours the Museum is open to our community is the next step in our commitment to provide high quality experiences at each of the City’s museums,” said Director of the Museums and Cultural Affairs Department Tracey Jerome.
The Museum of Archaeology invites residents to explore 14,000 years of prehistory in the El Paso area, the greater Southwest, and northern Mexico. The Museum has a world-class Casas Grandes Ceramics collection and is currently hosting a special exhibition entitled Paquimé and the Casas Grandes Culture. Complimenting this exhibition is a smaller photograph display in the Museum’s auditorium entitled The Rocks Speak: Petroglyphs of the Casas Grandes Region, which focus on three petroglyph sites.
Visitors can also explore the trails surrounding the museum and view 250 varieties of Chihuahuan Desert native plants, outdoor exhibits and an Indian Garden. For more information on the El Paso Museum of Archaeology, visit www.archaeology.elpasotexas.gov
Staff Report May 20, 2017LifestyleComments Off on El Paso Museum of Archaeology Opens Exhibit: Paquimé and the Casas Grandes Culture
The El Paso Museum of Archaeology announces the opening of a special exhibition, Paquimé and the Casas Grandes Culture on Saturday, May 20.
This exhibition highlights Paquimé’s importance as a center of regional trade and culture during the 13th and 14th centuries AD.
Located on Mesoamerica’s norther frontier, the city became an important trade center through which substantial quantities of turquoise, shell, colorful parrots, copper items and other commodities flowed north and south. The Casas Grandes culture is noted for their complex technology of raising tropical birds, such as Scarlet Macaws, in a non-tropical environment.
The driving center of the Casas Grandes culture was the city of Paquimé, and extensive ruin located in northwest Mexico. The formative stages of the culture are recognizable as early as the 1st century AD.
In its heyday, AD 1200 – 1450, Paquimé was the largest city in northern Mexico, covering nearly 88 acres, and was one of the largest cities in the greater Southwest.
The Casas Grandes culture is renowned for having produced some of the finest and most accomplished geometric pottery of the Pre-Columbian world.
This exhibition affords a wonderful opportunity to view many examples of this famous, visually-pleasing pottery. Indeed, the collection of Casas Grandes pottery held at the El Paso Museum of Archaeology is possibly one of the largest in the Southwest and many pieces from the Naylor Collection, donated a few years ago, will display for the first time.
Complimenting this exhibition will be a smaller photograph exhibition in the Museum’s auditorium showing three petroglyph sites in the Casas Grandes region.
The free exhibit will run through October 21. For more information, call the El Paso Museum of Archaeology at (915) 755-4332.
Staff Report September 30, 2016Local NewsComments Off on El Paso Museum of Archaeology to Celebrate Texas Archaeology Month
The El Paso Museum of Archaeology is celebrating Texas Archaeology Month with a number of free, family-friendly activities at the museum throughout October.
“Texas Archaeology Month and International Archaeology Day provide us with a great opportunity to introduce people to this science with activities that will let them get their hands dirty,” said Director of the El Paso Museum of Archaeology Jeff Romney.
The following activities will be held during October:
Public tours, archery and atl-atl demonstrations, film screenings of Ancient America: The Southwest.
Saturday, October 1
10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Public tours, archery and atl-atl demonstrations
Saturday, October 8
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
International Archaeology Day
Saturday, October 15
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Activities for all ages including flint knapping, pinch-pot making, table-top excavations, atlatl throwing, and Tigua bread sampling. Film screening of Ancient America: The Southwest at 1 p.m. Learn about zoo archaeology at 2:30 p.m. through a lecture by Alex Mares, who will discuss the cultural impact experienced from the domestication and use of horses by the Navajo
Public tours, archery and atl-atl demonstrations Saturday, October 22
Staff Report August 21, 2016Local NewsComments Off on Community Meeting Scheduled to Discuss New Shade Structure at Museum of Archaeology
The El Paso Museum of Archaeology is hosting a community meeting at 6 p.m. onMonday, August 22, to discuss the construction of a new shade structure at the City’s Wilderness Park, 4301 Transmountain (the museum of Archaeology is located at the City’s Wilderness Park).
The new shade structure, constructed with quality of life funds, will replace the gazebo that was once on the property. Severe weather over the years damaged the gazebo and it was removed after inspectors determined it was unsafe.
The new shade structure will be constructed as part of an ongoing partnership between the City of El Paso Parks and Recreation Department and the Museum and Cultural Affairs Department (MCAD). MCAD manages and maintains the building and Parks and Recreation manages and maintains the grounds at the City’s Wilderness Park.
In the past year, the museum has developed community partnerships to repair and improve the grounds around the facility to enhance visitor experience. Community volunteers have repaired the trail system that was also severely damaged during flooding in the area. Until this project was completed last winter, the trail system around the museum was closed to the public.
The El Paso Museum of Archaeology invites the public to learn more about the museum by participating in Family Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 13.
The fun-filled day includes free archaeology crafts and activities. Everyone is welcome to participate in a mock excavation, archery lessons, and atlatl demonstrations, as well as puppet-making, face painting and other crafts with an archaeological twist.
Visitors attending are encouraged to bring hats and sunscreen as some activities will be outside.
Staff Report July 22, 2016Local NewsComments Off on Museums & Cultural Affairs Department names new leader of El Paso Museum of Archaeology
The City of El Paso and the Museums and Cultural Affairs Department announced Friday morning that Jeffrey K. Romney will be assuming leadership of the El Paso Museum of Archaeology.
Romney was selected following an extensive recruitment and vetting process, including community stakeholders. He will be at the Museum of Archaeology on August 1. This will be the first time in seven years the museum will have dedicated leadership to provide a clear focus on the goals and other opportunities available at the museum.
“We are excited that Jeff’s skills and leadership will help grow programming, stimulate fundraising to begin a new chapter at the Museum of Archaeology,” said Director Museum and Cultural Affairs Department Tracey Jerome.
Jeff has been Director of Development at the El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA) since 2006. He has an extensive background in anthropology. He focused his studies on the southwest and received extensive training in collections care and management.
During his studies at BYU, he worked with the university’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures collection of Casas Grandes Ceramics, which he identified and catalogued. After he completed his degree in Anthropology at BYU, Jeff worked as a Museum Specialist at Wheeler Historic Farm in Salt Lake City.
Over the next two years, he oversaw the museum’s curatorial, registration, education and development programs supervising a staff of up to 50 individuals including tour guides, docents and teachers. He wrote the museum’s first tour guide manual and collection care and management policies manual.
Romney curated Living from the Land: Legacy of a Past Era which opened in March 1996 in conjunction with the State of Utah’s Sesquicentennial Celebrations. The exhibition received special commendation from the Utah State House of Representatives.