Ellen Noel Art Museum

With a multitude of interesting attractions to see and a population of 123,334, the city of Odessa lies in the westernmost part of Texas. The city has an excellent reputation for football and is home to a hoard of oil rigs scattered across its plains. It is also home to the Ellen Noel Art Museum, a museum that aims to bring a connection across the community by providing education through exhibitions, collections, and outreach.

Coming about due to a community grass roots effort to open a fine arts museum in the city of Odessa, the Ellen Noel Art Museum of the Permian Basin was opened in 1985. It was first known as the Art Institute for the Permian Basin, but was renamed in 1995 to the Ellen Noel Art Museum. This was done in order to honor the philanthropic efforts and stunning leadership of the great Ellen W. Noel. In addition to being honored with the art museum being named after her, Mrs. Noel’s endeavors included the Noel Heritage Plaza, High Sky Children’s Ranch, UTPB Development Board, numerous scholarships, and the performing Arts Center for UTPB. She was a major contributor to the development of the Permian Basin due to her philanthropy and passed away in May of 2008.

The Ellen Noel Art Museum features 4 amazing galleries in addition to two classrooms, a self-directed family space, and a sculpture and sensory garden. This museum has come to be known for its excellent educational programs for people of all ages and its events schedule that remains active. The Ellen Noel Art Museum is a non-profit organization that receives funding via donations, memberships, fundraising events, grants, and interest income from an endowment fund. In order to remain active in and responsive to the needs of the surrounding community, the Ellen Noel Art Museum relies on over 200 annually serving volunteers that serve in the various realms of the museum.

Since 2005, this museum has been accredited by the American Association of Museums. It is among one of the few Texas museums that have been granted the status of official Smithsonian Affiliate which allows the museum access to millions of artifacts as well as the Smithsonian Institutions educational resources from its 47 museums, libraries, and research centers.

The museum’s self-directed family space, the Art Haus, is a place for anyone wanting to learn more about the current exhibit or the permanent exhibits. Anyone interested is given the opportunity to read books, watch videos, look at a printed gallery guide, access a computer CD ROM, play an interactive game, or participate in a hands-on activity that is designed to enhance the knowledge and understanding of exhibits on display.

The museum also houses a sculpture and sensory garden named the George and Milly Rhodus Sculpture & Sensory Garden. This area is user friendly and completely accessible to guests that may face challenges navigating everyday life. It features wheelchair ramps and railings leading throughout the garden, raised garden beds holding fragrant plants and flowers, touchable signs that feature raised letters, and sculptures that are also allowed to be touched by guests.
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