The 11 Best Museums in El Paso

San Elizario Mission
Mark A Paulda / Getty Images

El Paso is easily one of the most fascinating cities in America, with its fluid blend of Texan, Mexican, and distinctly El Pasoan cultural influences. As you might imagine given this city's rich heritage and unique location—strung along the Rio Grande, El Paso is barely in Texas, serving as an important border-crossing point for people coming and going into Mexico—there are several noteworthy museums to check out here. Best of all? Many of the top museums are free.

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Tigua Indian Cultural Center

Pueblo in the museum

Courtesy of Tigua Indian Cultural Center

305 Yaya Ln, El Paso, TX 79907, USA
Phone +1 915-859-7700

At the Tigua Indian Cultural Center, visitors can learn about and experience the Tigua tribe, which is the oldest federally recognized indigenous tribe in Texas. The Cultural Center exhibits the tribe’s heritage and vibrant contemporary existence through social dance performances, bread-baking, storytelling, gardening, pottery-making, and bead-looming. Tribal members also sell authentic Tigua attire and artifacts in the gift shop. Before you go, check out the events page to see when programs and performances are scheduled.

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El Paso Museum of Archaeology

Villa Ahumada Polychrome olla. Casas Grandes Culture, Medio Period AD 1200-1450. Collection of El Paso Museum of Archaeology.

Courtesy of El Paso Museum of Archaeology

4301 Woodrow Bean Transmountain Dr, El Paso, TX 79924, USA
Phone +1 915-755-4332

Presenting more than 14,000 years of prehistory in the El Paso area, the greater Southwest, and northern Mexico, the El Paso Museum of Archeology is a rich, immersive look at the Native history and culture of the region. The exhibits here are periodically changed, but in general, you can expect to see dioramas of American Indian lives extending from the Paleoindian hunters of the Ice Age to their modern descendants, as well as exhibits of artifacts including ceramics, basketry, stone tools, textiles, and more.      

And, visitors can get up close and personal with the native plants of the Chihuahuan Desert at the museum’s Wilderness Park, where you can traipse along 15 acres of nature trails and experience more than 250 varieties of plants.

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El Paso Museum of Art

entrance to El Paso Museum of Art in Texas, USA
Christine_Kohler / Getty Images
1 Arts Festival Plaza, El Paso, TX 79901, USA
Phone +1 915-212-0300

Founded in 1959 and located in the heart of the Downtown Arts District, the El Paso Museum of Art (EPMA) houses a permanent collection of more than 7,000 works of art from the Byzantine era to the present, including significant European baroque and renaissance works by Van Dyck, Botticelli, and Canaletto. In addition, for the past 20 years, the EPMA's Art School has been an important part of this space, offering both children and adult classes that combine art-making with the study of the original works on view in the museum's galleries.

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International Museum of Art

front entrance of a Greek revival-style building that houses the International Museum of Art in El Paso

Courtesy of Visit El Paso / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

1211 Montana Ave, El Paso, TX 79902-5511, USA
Phone +1 915-543-6747

Located in El Paso’s historic Turney Mansion, the International Museum of Art has a permanent collection of art from the region, Europe, and Africa, along with two changing galleries. The Red Room Galleries on the lower level are devoted solely to the work of artists living in the greater El Paso/Southwest Region, and other collections include the Western Art Gallery, the Kolliker Gallery (showcasing the work of one of the city’s most beloved artists, William Kolliker), the African Art Gallery, and the Mexican Revolution Gallery, which highlights the revolution and its impact on regional culture.      

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El Paso Holocaust Museum & Study Center

Exhibit in the museum

Courtesy of El Paso Holocaust Museum & Study Center

715 N Oregon St, El Paso, TX 79902-3911, USA
Phone +1 915-351-0048

The El Paso Holocaust Museum & Study Center is the only fully bilingual Holocaust museum in the U.S. and its mission is to teach the history of the Holocaust, in order to combat prejudice and intolerance everywhere. Holocaust survivor and El Paso resident Henry Kellen decided to open the museum in 1984 to share his experiences, following a surge of Holocaust denial in the mainstream media during the 1980s. Exhibits trace the rise of the Third Reich, the mass deportation of millions of Germans and European citizens to concentration camps and ghettos, and the liberation of the camps by Allied forces. The museum also hosts events throughout the year to engage with the community, like film screenings, the annual “Tour de Tolerance” bike race, and more.   

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Los Portales Museum and Information Center

Housed in an 1850s-era territorial style building in El Paso’s Mission Valley, the Los Portales Museum and Information Center has exhibits that focus on the historical legacies of San Elizario. The city was the landing spot of Spanish conquistador Juan de Onate and was the original county seat of El Paso. This museum documents the city's history of Spanish colonization and the early days of El Paso.

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El Paso Museum of History

Storm clouds appear behind the El Paso Museum of History
Bill Chizek / Getty Images
510 N Santa Fe St, El Paso, TX 79901, USA
Phone +1 915-212-0320

The history of El Paso spans many centuries and cultures. At the El Paso Museum of History, visitors will gain a deep understanding of the city and surrounding region by exploring the two-story, 44,000-square-foot museum, which has five galleries. Exhibits include "Changing Pass," which covers more than 400 years of El Paso del Norte region history, and "Las Villitas: Neighborhoods & Shared Memories," which features artifacts and stories from past and present residents of El Paso neighborhoods.

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Fort Bliss & Old Ironside Museum

the types of military tanks in front of a building with a sign that says "Fort Bliss and Old Ironsides Museums"

Courtesy of U.S. Army Center of Military History

1735 Marshall Rd, Fort Bliss, TX 79906, USA
Phone +1 915-568-5412

This museum showcases the long, colorful history of Fort Bliss in El Paso, which has been used by the United States Army since 1849 and is home to the First Armored Division of the United States. The base is one of the biggest in the country and spans more than 1 million acres across Texas and New Mexico. Military buffs will delight in the Old Ironsides Museum, whose many exhibits are about the history of the base and the division and include over 40 tanks and armored vehicles. 

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Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens

southwestern style stone and brick building with desert landscaping out from

Courtesy of University of Texas at El Paso

The first museum in El Paso, the Centennial Museum was created during the 1936 Texas Centennial. Located on the University of Texas at El Paso campus (UT), this historic museum houses permanent exhibits that focus on the natural and cultural history of the Chihuahuan Desert, the largest desert in North America. Temporary exhibits are related to border life and culture. The Chihuahuan Desert Gardens were established in 1999 and are certified as a Texas Wildscape site—visitors can see more than 800 species of plants here. 

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Stanlee & Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts

Mural at the museum

Courtesy of Rubin Center for the Visual Arts

500 W University Ave, El Paso, TX 79902, USA
Phone +1 915-747-6151

Another gem on the University of Texas campus, the Rubin Center presents exhibitions of internationally recognized contemporary art to the geographically isolated region of El Paso, all of which are meant to inspire dialogue and critical thinking and deepen public appreciation of contemporary art. Past exhibitions include the Border Tuner, an interactive public art installation across the U.S.-Mexico border; Iconográfica Oaxaca, an exhibition of contemporary art from Oaxaca; and, Not-So-Lone Star Studio, which connected 37 Texas artists working in contemporary jewelry and metalsmithing. The Rubin also serves as a learning site for students of the university and local emerging artists.

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Magoffin Home State Historic Site

Doorway at the Magoffin Home State Historic Site, El Paso, Texas
Buyenlarge / Getty Images
1120 Magoffin Ave, El Paso, TX 79901, USA
Phone +1 915-533-5147

Located in downtown El Paso, the Magoffin Home State Historic Site is a historic adobe home that was constructed by Joseph and Octavia Magoffin around 1875. Joseph Magoffin was born in Mexico and came to El Paso in 1856; after serving in the Civil War, he became an advocate for the city and region, serving as county judge and mayor, among other public offices. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, the home (a prime example of Territorial-style architecture) is one of the oldest surviving adobes in the region.  

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The 11 Best Museums in El Paso