Neighborhoods & Shared Memories
El Paso Museum of History
Opens March 11, 2012
After five years of planning, the El Paso Museum of History will celebrate the opening of the Neighborhoods & Shared Memories Exhibit on March 11 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. previously known as Las Villitas, this exhibit presents El Paso’s neighborhood history and initially focuses on the oldest neighborhoods: Chihuahuita and El Segundo Barrio. Every two years, the exhibit will feature another set of neighborhoods. Neighborhoods seeks to preserve, interpret, and increase an appreciation for neighborhood-based history.
The Neighborhoods exhibit is a community-advised exhibit, which means community members and organizations assisted with the exhibit’s development. The exhibit is composed of cherished photographs, special mementos and keepsakes from past and present residents of Chihuahuita and El Segundo Barrio. Highlights include a one-of-a-kind “ta-bed,” or table that converts into a bed; a 1930’s radio and record player; and a banner used in religious processions at Sacred Heart Church.
Exhibit special features include a theater for viewing oral history interviews and a floor map where visitors can use specially designed building blocks to recreate El Segundo Barrio and Chihuahuita. For the first time in an El Paso museum, visitors can use a “spinbrowser” to control an animation of regional settlement and growth. This unique animation was painstakingly created from hundreds of historic and contemporary maps. It serves as a fun yet instructional tool to see the relationships between the region’s physical geography, human settlements, and political change. Also for the first time in several decades, visitors can see a recently conserved 1889 map of El Paso.
Finally, two new murals were created by Jesus “Cimi” Alvarado of Kalavera Studio, who grew up on the colorful streets of Segundo Barrio himself. Mr. Alvarado was inspired by photographs collected during the project and sought to give credit to many “unsung heroes” of Segundo Barrio, including Ambrosio Guillen, Don Tosti, Nina Cordero and Cleofas Calleros. Alvarado collaborated with current art students from Bowie High School to complete the artwork.