Founded by visionary members of the community, the Wichita Falls Museum and Art Center opened its doors to the public on April 1, 1967. Two years prior, the Junior Service League spearheaded a feasibility study to design the facility, and to raise the needed capital. The Eureka Life Insurance Company of America donated the land and the Junior Service League donated $40,000 and a pledge of $35,000 over five years to support a museum director. With the addition of private donations, the construction of the Museum was fully funded before the groundbreaking ceremony on April 12, 1966. The Museum originally focused on art, science, and regional history. The Museum was accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1973 and is currently applying for reaccreditation.
The original 16,500 square foot facility located on Sikes Lake was heavily damaged from a tornado in 1979, but was rebuilt and expanded. The Museum’s history includes the addition of a new 6,572 square foot wing in 1990, the renovation of the art galleries in 2010, the renovation of the Cannedy Events Hall in 2013, and the addition of the terrace and The Ruby and Robert Priddy Pavilion in 2015.
As the Museum’s art program evolved and strengthened, and as financial and facility constraints diminished the growth of the science and history components, the Museum focused primarily on art. In 2001 the process began for the adjacent Midwestern State University to acquire the Museum through a donation. The transfer of ownership was finalized on July 20, 2005, and the name was changed to the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University.
More than 400 temporary art exhibitions have been presented in the Museum’s galleries in the last 50 years. To celebrate the Golden Anniversary of the Museum, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions Danny Bills has filled the galleries with selected major artworks to demonstrate the depth and breadth of the permanent collection. The permanent collection has grown since 1967 into an outstanding collection of artworks on paper and original prints by American artists. The Museum’s permanent collection includes more than 1500 artworks ranging from a 1677 print by John Foster to major works by Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock, Leonard Baskin, Andy Warhol, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, John Sloan, as well as works by many contemporary artists including Mary McCleary, Benito Huerta, Judy Youngblood, Ron Adams, and many others. The holdings include more than 3000 historic and fine art photographs including a collection of photographs of early Wichita Falls by C.A. Fuhs.
The Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University is an educational resource for MSU students and faculty and an outreach to the community and region. The Museum offers year-round changing art exhibitions and education programs for adults and children. Without memberships or an admission fee, the WFMA has an active changing exhibition program that focuses on contemporary art of the region within the context of American art. The WFMA integrates art into the life of the community and serves as a model of excellence and a catalyst for art enrichment and exploration.
This exhibition runs September 22 through December 23, 2017.