Permanent Exhibits


The Centennial Museum's permanent exhibits focus on the natural and cultural history of the Chihuahuan Desert. Current and previous temporary exhibits cover a range of topics about the border region and the Americas, or present the work of UTEP faculty and staff.

Direct all artifact research inquiries to

Samantha Winer
(915) 747-6668

Past Exhibits

"Time Exposures: Picturing A History Of Isleta Pueblo In The 19th Century"

The exhibit “Time Exposures: Picturing a History of Isleta Pueblo in the 19th Century,” organized by the Pueblo of Isleta tribe in New Mexico, tells the story of life on the Isleta Indian Reservation in the 19th century and its lasting effects on life today. Using many historic photographs and a variety of media, the story unfolds in three parts: First, the Pueblo people describe the year’s cycle as it was in the mid-19th century; second, the exhibit explores the arrival of Americans and how this disrupted their way of life; and, finally, the exhibit examines the historic photographs as products of Anglo culture.



"The Notebook of Nancy Lea"

Audiences know about the artist Tom Lea. Few, however, know of Nancy Lea, Tom’s first wife who died at a young age. Nancy was an aspiring writer with a strong point-of-view. Though none of her works were ever published, her writings continue to tell her story, more than 80 years after her death. “The Notebook of Nancy Lea” is Nancy’s story in her own words. The exhibit includes excerpts from Nancy’s journal as well as stunning photographs of Nancy and Tom.



Traveling exhibits from the U.S. and Mexico



 'JUNTOS' Exhibit Celebrates Regional Iconography

The Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens – a part of The University of Texas at El Paso – and the JUNTOS Art Association present the exhibit “Icons and Symbols of the Borderland,” an eclectic portrayal of the contemporary border landscape and its culture through the art works of 22 JUNTOS artists from Oct. 10, 2015, through Jan. 16, 2016. Familiar Icons that include Pancho Villa, La Virgen de Guadalupe, and Cabeza de Vaca and symbols such as jaguars and monarch butterflies synthesize and collide in an exhibition rooted in the personal and collective consciousness of border life.

“Ours is an age where visual representations are elemental to our daily communication and lifestyle,” said Diana Molina, artist and exhibit coordinator. “Symbols are keys to the stories of our human activity – they link the past and present, they ignite emotions, they represent our place within the contemporary U.S. / Mexican border terrain.”

The collection combines tradition, culture, history and nature in a variety of subjects and themes ranging from the religious and mythological to the commercial and socio-political uniquely depicted in paintings, photography, sculpture and collage.

Exhibit Highlights Borderland’s LGBTQ Community

Whether it’s the topic of same-sex marriage or gender identity, people across the country are talking about issues dealing with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual and queer (LGBTQ) community. This June, the Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens will present a new exhibit, “Engendering Community” that highlights the LGBTQ community of the El Paso/Juárez region.