The Museum of the Southwest was incorporated on September 25, 1965, after the Junior League of Midland voted to establish an art and science museum, and pledged support for the institution over a five-year period. With the League’s planning and the support of the people of Midland, the Museum opened in 1966. Governor John Connolly cut the ribbon opening the facility at 3201 West Wall Avenue to great enthusiasm by everyone in the community. After a short stay on Wall Avenue, the Museum moved to 26 Village Circle in 1966, and then to its present location in the Turner Mansion in July of 1968. After the mansion and stables became the home of the Museum, the property was expanded in 1970 with the addition of the Thomas Gallery and in 1987 with the addition of the Lissa Noël Wagner Wing, which added much needed exhibition space, collection storage, preparation and art-handling spaces. In 1972, a grant from the Blakemore Foundation allowed the Museum to build a Planetarium. The building, designed by noted architect Frank Welch, won the Texas Society of Architects’ Award for Excellence. It was renovated and expanded in 2009 and is named in honor of Marian Blakemore. In 1986, after a Junior League community needs assessment determined that a children’s museum would benefit Midland, Fredda Turner Durham gave a generous donation to assure the development of a new facility which was named in her honor. The Children’s Museum was built on neighboring property given to the Museum by a patron. The Museum was accredited by the AAM in June 1992, and again in 2002. The Museum is governed by a Board of Trustees and has a full and part-time staff of around 20.
Today, the Museum of the Southwest’s five-acre campus is comprised of four buildings totaling over fifty thousand square feet of space for the community, including over sixteen thousand feet of galleries and a collection comprised of more than 1,700 works of art and approximately 45,000 archaeological items. The Museum is the host of numerous events for the community, over a dozen exhibitions per year and a favorite place of visitors near and far for art exhibitions, astronomy programs, musical evenings, festivals and many other activities.