History

Founding

Founded in the mid-1960s by visionary members of the community and spearheaded by the Junior Service League during a decade of political and social change and uncertainty, the Wichita Falls Museum and Art Center opened its doors on April 1, 1967.  The Eureka Life Insurance Company of America donated the land, and the Junior Service League donated $40,000 in capital funds. With the addition of private donations, construction of the Museum was fully funded before the groundbreaking ceremony on April 12, 1966. 

Ground breaking, 1966

As the Vietnam War became a daily reality and the Civil Rights Movement experienced the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the impactful actions of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., the people of Wichita Falls invested in culture. Originally focused on art, science, and history, the Museum achieved prestigious accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums in 1973 (then the American Association of Museums), with new accreditation in 2019 under its newest iteration as part of Midwestern State University. 

The original 16,500 square foot facility located on Sikes Lake was heavily damaged by a tornado in 1979, known locally as Terrible Tuesday, and was rebuilt and expanded. The Museum added a new wing in 1990, renovated the art galleries in 2010, renovated the Cannedy Events Hall in 2013, and constructed the outdoor Ruby and Robert Priddy Pavilion in 2015. 

Today 

In 2005, the Board of Directors donated the museum to Midwestern State University, launching a combined purpose to integrate art into the life of the community and the liberal arts mission of MSU. Acknowledging the museum’s strength in the visual arts, the name became the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University. Today, five art galleries, a community art studio, event spaces, and an outdoor pavilion offer year-round changing exhibitions and educational programs, meeting the Museum’s mission to enrich life in our region through new experiences in the visual arts for all ages.   

The permanent collection offers an outstanding resource of artworks on paper and original prints by American artists. More than 1600 artworks range from a 1677 print by John Foster to works by modern and contemporary artists, along with more than 2000 historic and fine art photographs, including C.A. Fuhs’ visionary images of early Wichita Falls. Today, the Museum is a model of excellence and a catalyst for the expressive lives of the people of Wichita Falls. 

Going Forward 

Through culturally diverse art collecting, exhibitions and programs steeped in relevance, and empowering partnerships and scholarship, the WFMA continues to advocate for the power of art to enrich the quality of people’s lives. Art brings people into a communion with a larger community and helps people connect the senses, body, and mind. When you visit the museum, we hope you experience both welcome and wonder. 

Exhibition reception