Museo Urbano at UTEP was born on the centennial of the Mexican Revolution in 2010. The Revolution was the first great revolution of the twentieth century and had enormous impact on El Paso and Ciudad Juárez as well as Mexico and the United States. Because of this war, approximately one million Mexicans migrated to the U.S. either temporarily or permanently. This migration reinforced existing Mexican-origin communities in the United States and created Mexican settlements across the country. Juárez was a key city in the Revolution as was El Paso, a city that welcomed refugees and immigrants, housed exiles and revolutionaries, and profited greatly from war-related businesses. Our oldest barrios (Chihuahuita, el Segundo, and Duranguito) as well as downtown still boast turn of the 20th century buildings that hold the rich history of the Revolution.
In 2010, historians David Dorado Romo and Yolanda Chávez Leyva founded Museo Urbano at 500 W. Overland Street as a community space highlighting the history of el Segundo Barrio and Teresita Urrea, one of its most famous residents. The opening of Museo Urbano came on the heels of an exhibit, "El Paso: The Other Side of the Mexican Revolution," at the El Paso Museum of History, based on Dr. Romo's book, Ringside Seat to a Revolution: The Underground Cultural History of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, 1893-1923. The community space, funded through a Texas Historical Commission Grant to Dr. Paul Edison, brought together historians, artists, musicians, poets, and students to tell the story of the border. In the succeeding years, Museo Urbano has continued to function, working in collaboration with museums such as UTEP’s Centennial Museum, the El Paso Museum of History, and the El Paso Archaeology Museum as well as neighborhoods such as Duranguito.
Museo Urbano reclaims, researches, preserves, exhibits, and interprets the history of the borderlands, especially El Paso-Ciudad Juárez. In doing so, we foster an understanding of the connections between the local and the global as well as the ties between the past and the present. Museo Urbano invites visitors to reflect on their own place in history, to think critically about history and to act on that knowledge. Museo Urbano accomplishes this through exhibits, lectures, workshops and dialogues in collaboration with other organizations, grassroots groups and educational institutions.
Respect – We honor the multiple communities that comprise the borderlands as well as the beautiful and often painful history of this place. We strive to present these histories with respect.
- Reciprocity – We believe that the creation and interpretation of history is a mutual act. We do not “give voice” to the community. The community has a voice. We listen and work reciprocally with community members to understand our history.
Responsibility – As part of an institution of higher education, we take serious our responsibility to the community to improve life in the borderlands through nurturing scholarly and creative work.
- Social Justice – Museo Urbano emerged from a history of social justice activism. We acknowledge that institutions of higher education have had antagonistic and contentious relationships with communities of color and working-class communities. While recognizing the inherent power relationships, we also believe that universities and communities can work in partnership to advance social justice.
Honors and Awards
- National Council on Public History awarded Museo Urbano the “2013 NCPH Outstanding Public History Award.”
- Museo Urbano was chosen as one of 20 sites nationally to develop the National Immigration Dialogues, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (2014-15).
- We were invited by the Brazilian government's Amnesty Commission and the International Coalition of Sites of Conscienceto present dialogue training to an international group at “Memory: A Pillar of Transitional Justice and Human Rights,” Sao Paulo (2014).
- The Texas House of Representatives honored Museo Urbano via Resolution No. 2667 (2014).
- Selected by the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum as a featured museum in “By the People: Designing a Better America” exhibit, New York City (2016-17).