Street Address
2 Eureka Circle
Wichita Falls, TX 76308
Mailing Address
2 Eureka Circle
Wichita Falls, TX 76308
phone: 940-397-8900
e-mail: jeff.desborough@mwsu.edu
web: www.mwsu.edu/wfma
Staff
Jeff Desborough, Interim Director
Danny Bills, Curator of Art & Curator of Collections

Description

The Wichita Falls Museum and Art Center (MAC) has been in a period of transition as we have rewritten our mission statement to identify our focus on art, science, and children s exhibits. We are carefully deaccessioning our history collection and will be concentrating on building our American print collection. The museum has been rapidly purchasing art works and needs an avenue to share this with other museums.

We have also purchased portable Laser equipment which we use in our planetarium and off-site. We would be interested in sharing our expertise and our programs and equipment. We have found that the Laser is an excellent teaching tool with school children.

The MAC has also designed and built 30 interactive science exhibit components for our Magic Touch Science Gallery. These exhibits are very popular, and many could be available for exchange with another museum. We are currently building a children s gallery and would like assistance with educational children s programming.

History

Wichita Falls' citizens had long dreamed of founding a museum, but it was not until the early 1940s that efforts were made in that direction. In 1962, after two attempts failed to establish a museum at Midwestern State University, the Junior League began a plan to establish a permanent museum. On May 27, 1964, the Charter of Incorporation under which the museum began to operate was approved. A financial solicitation followed, and ground breaking for the new museum took place on April 12, 1966, with the museum opening as scheduled on April 1, 1967.

The first acquisition was a planetarium machine. It was determined that the public looked primarily to the museum for examples of art of other areas and periods. Although financial support provided museum maintenance, the small exhibits budget pointed toward a need for a permanent collection upon which to draw for its own exhibits. The Art Acquisitions committee agreed that a historical survey of American art would best meet the needs of the community. It further determined that the most feasible means of achieving this would be to purchase original graphics or prints. The first exhibition of the permanent collection took place in 1976, and this exhibit subsequently became a traveling exhibit.

In 1973, the museum received accreditation by the American Association of Museums, which it retains to date. Under the guidance of the first director in 1966, the purpose, scope, and methods of operation were set in writing by the Board of Trustees and adopted just prior to the opening ceremonies. The stated purpose has remained unchanged until the 25th anniversary year. At that time, the long range planning committee recommended the addition of the words, "all segments of the community" in recognition of the need for the museum to remove any vestige of elitism, to promote the continuance of the use of the museum by families, and to continue the quest to reach the potential audience in the 22 counties surrounding the museum. Additionally, the long-range planning committee also recommended that the museum focus only on the disciplines of Art and Science in planning programs and exhibits. These changes to the statement of purpose were approved by the board at its annual meeting last year.

During the past 25 years, the museum has endured a major fire, a devastating tornado, and a severe depression in the local oil and gas economy. Defying the odds, the trustees set forth in 1986 to raise money to construct a 6,572 square foot new wing and to add to the existing endowment. After a successful campaign, the new wing with a new state-of-the-art vault opened in April of 1990.

The next move was to increase museum attendance, which had dropped to an all time low and to improve the museum's operating budget. Dinosaur Roundup became the vehicle for this goal, and this successful fundraising exhibit revitalized the museum, brought in 60,000 visitors, and made the museum relevant to the entire region. In analyzing the statistics collected during this exhibit, the museum has adjusted its program focus with a hands-on science gallery, a discovery room, and an increased planetarium show schedule. The adoption of the Long-Range Plan secured the first $250,000 of a $1.25 million pledge to the museum endowment and the art collection.

Artifacts Collections

Permanent Art Collection focuses on the history of American art through printmaking and holds approximately 700+ prints in various medias. Other art works in the art collection include various sculpture, paintings, drawings, pottery, and rare books. The total number of art works in computer records is approximately 1,100. Time span covered by the collection ranges from 1677 to the present. Heaviest concentration is on 20th-century prints.

Local history Photo Archives holds about 3,500 photographs that document the historical and industrial development of the local area. A few photos date back to 1860 with the heaviest concentration on 1890 to 1950 or so. These photos provide a fascinating account in visual local history of how Wichita Falls and the surrounding communities have changed and developed.

Other areas of the collection include ethnic statues and sculptures that are mainly African and pre-Columbian. These works were added to the collection over 20 years ago. The collection has approximately 100 of these items which vary from small statues to cultural artifacts, all quite small in scale.

An estimated 175 African pieces from about 1950 are also quite miniature in scale. As the collection becomes more focused, the goal is to transfer records of these items to the permanent Art Collection categories. They are recorded at this time as historical artifacts.

There are also approximately 20 quilts of local heritage which will eventually be planned for transfer to the Permanent Art Collection records as textile art.

Estimating approximately various and sundry historical 2,000 objects as follows: dolls, clothing and textiles, photography equipment, office equipment, antique toys, antique furnishings, natural history items, tools, sewing and spinning, African objects, etc. While many of these items are not dated, they typically fall into periods of 1890 to 1940.

These objects no longer fit

Research Collections

Archival collections are being transferred to the Wichita County Archives since they are a more appropriate resource for researchers. However, until completed and final administrative functions in preparing transfer are complete, any and all items may be used for research here. Included are newspaper clippings, letters, booklets, documents, etc. Library/visual resources [size and scope; circulation policy; appointment policy; access; reproduction issues; fees]

The museum has a research library which is available for use by the public. It contains 1,500 volumes dealing with such topics as Chinese art, world art, art seminars, lithographic art, source material on historical figures, Texas culture and area history, natural science, and astronomy. the library is completely staffed by volunteers and open during convenient hours for students and teachers or upon request. Two books have been written utilizing the collection. The Registrar assists researchers in using the collection for this very important aspect of the museum's purpose, providing "opportunity for immediate intellectual involvement with man's past and present environment."

The Education Curator, the Exhibits Curator, and the Traveling Trunk Coordinator make frequent use of these research opportunities in planning exhibits and programs. Research is used primarily to document the collections and for the development of exhibit labels. Information is also gathered for docent training and the development of educational programs. The university students and professors from the art department make frequent use of the museum library for research, as do high school students.

Does not circulate print materials; no appointment necessary; possibly can assist with inter-library loans.

Main visual reference materials include slides of those art works documented from the Permanent collection. Some works have also black and white photos. Approximately 70% of the perm

Educational Programs

Programming consists of school and public tours by trained volunteer docents, Planetarium shows, after school video-plex shows (educational wide screen videos on planetarium dome) special events, workshops, classes, bus trips, children's theater presentations, community festivals, outreach programs, and cooperative ventures with special interest groups. School groups receive a guided tour of the museum by volunteer docents, a planetarium show, and a half- hour session in the Discovery Room with hands-on activities.

An Education Committee consisting of representatives from the school district and the University was formed and has had several fruitful meetings. Suggestions gleaned from these meetings have helped evaluate current programming in terms of its relevance to the community and to the school curriculum. These suggestions also led to some experimental programs last year.

In March of 1993, the museum introduced The Eureka Science Theater, a science workshop presentation for 10 to 12 year olds directed by a physics teacher on loan from the school system. This highly innovative program was well received and will be rescheduled. Saturday workshops cover such diverse topics as art using recycled paper, solar graphics, crystal basics, quilt making, puppetry, and theater.

Story Patch Players offers two presentations each month to preschool children and encourages audience interaction. Working with the local Astronomy club, the museum offers informational star gazing sessions several times a year which have a positive effect on the planetarium show attendance. This past summer the museum co-sponsored a Science Laboratory at the museum with the local school district's science department.

In May, the museum hosts a Very Special Arts Festival, a day-long program in which over 250 mentally and physically handicapped children participate in arts and crafts and interact with performing and visual artists. The museum also offers a children's performing art series that ties in with the exhibit format.

The museum schedules lectures and gallery talks for specific exhibits.

Other materials include traveling trunks for outreach programs at schools and local areas. Portable laser equipment could do shows at other locations.

    Publications

    Quarterly newsletter, monthly calendar of events, exhibit announcements quarterly, general membership brochure, rack card brochure - general museum information, laser and planetarium brochure, exhibition brochures.

    Wichita Falls: A Century in Photographs by Michael Duty, published by Midwestern State University Press for the Wichita Falls Museum and Art Center, 1982. The book gives a brief history of Wichita Falls and portfolios around 200 local history photographs.

    There are not publications which cite any WFMAC holdings in art However, since the concentration is on American printmaking, many works in its collection are reproduced in various books, etc., as primary works in other collections.