From the UTEP Prospector: Campus museum prepares visitor’s center for centennial

By on September 3, 2013

Amanda Guillen, Staff Reporter
September 3, 2013

A visitor’s center at the Centennial Museum is scheduled to open Sept. 23, in honor of the 100-day countdown to 2014, the beginning of the celebration of UTEP’s 100-year anniversary.

In addition to being a visitors’ one-stop shop for information regarding the university, the visitor’s center will have a variety of exhibits. Three galleries are currently in the completion process.

The Discovery Gallery will contain an exhibit that will remain open the entire year and showcase UTEP’s 100-year history. The Tom Lea Gallery will have changing exhibits throughout the year.

Guided tours will be offered, as themes will change monthly. A movie theater will showcase films about UTEP, including footage from the 1966 Texas Western College men’s basketball team that won the NCAA championship, and the film “Glory Road.”

Maribel Villalva, director of the Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, said the opening of the center at the museum is another opportunity to celebrate UTEP and the centennial.

“We are excited because we think it will translate to more visitors,” Villalva said. “We love the attention that this is getting. If the centennial celebration is what gets people here, but then keeps them coming back, that is a success for us.”

Some of the exhibits that will be showcased in the smaller gallery include: technology across the decades, UTEP Athletics, UTEP In The News, UTEP and the Chicano Movement and

UTEP and the Kingdom of Bhutan. A centennial photo contest will close out the year of exhibits.

Tours will be available to the public to get insight into UTEP’s athletics, architecture, arts and culture. A haunted tour is also planned for fall 2014.

Outside of the museum, there is a secretive black tarp covering what seems to be a new structure.

“We are not allowed to talk about the structure outside, but it is all tied into the big unveiling,” Villalva said.

Sophomore criminal justice major Paola Lujan is curious about the big surprise UTEP has under the tarp.

“At first I thought it was just part of the construction sites so I simply overlooked it, but walking by it every day I got curious about what it could be,” Lujan said.

Villalva said the tarp will be removed on Sept. 23 along with the opening of the visitor’s center. There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony as well as a party for the students.

Lujan said she is excited for the centennial kick-off and the unveiling of the big surprise.

“Mostly because I really want to see what’s underneath it, I want to see if I like it or not,” Lujan said. “I’ve been coming up with a bunch of guesses and I want to see if any of them are right.”

For more information on the center or to find out about guided tours and galleries, visit or stop by the museum, located on the corner of Wiggins and University Ave.

“We want the students to get into the spirit of the celebration and we hope this gets the students excited about the university and its centennial,” Villalva said.

Amanda Guillen may be reached at

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Jessica Molinar Muñoz is the director of communications for UTEP's Centennial Office.