The McAllen International Museum welcomed over 110,000 visitors, local and out-of-town, in 1995. They came to enjoy quality art and science exhibitions and to participate in a variety of related programs and events.

McAllen International Museum was founded by the Junior League of McAllen as a cultural institution featuring art and science exhibits and educational programs. Supported by the City of McAllen, the museum was chartered under the laws of the state of Texas on June 2, 1967. In October, 1968, the Junior League Museum Board and the city signed a lease agreement for a 5,000 square-foot former detention center building to house the new museum. They appointed a twenty-member Board of Trustees which adopted bylaws and hired the first executive director. League volunteers undertook building renovations and the museum opened its doors to the public in October, 1969. The city of McAllen constructed the present 21,000 square-foot building as a bicentennial project, dedicated on July 4, 1976.

The American Association of Museums accredited the museum in 1972, one of only 177 accredited museums at that time out of the 6,000 in the United States and Canada. MIM was honored to be the 78th museum reaccredited by the AAM in 1985. The museum's varied permanent collection includes a large selection of Latin American folk art, as well as contemporary prints, 16th to 20th century paintings, and mineral and biological collections of the region and beyond. In keeping with its purpose of providing "an expanding program whereby the museum becomes a major cultural factor within the community," MIM hosts a variety of art and science exhibits annually and presents extensive programs, events and classes for the benefit of all sections of the community.

The MIM Guild, currently with over 120 members and 85 active volunteers, was formed in 1970 to staff the gift shop and provide hospitality. The museum's docents were originally part of the Guild, but formed their own Docent Council in 1980 in order to strengthen their training for making programs "a living experience" and assist MI M in reaching its purpose "to be a teaching museum which conducts special tours and experiences for school classes."

Between 1979 and 1981, MIM began to focus on collecting Latin American folk art for several reasons: such art is more available, the museum is located in a bicultural area on the border with Mexico, and no other U.S. museum south of San Antonio collects folk art. An IMS-CPS grant of $20,000, awarded to MIM in August, 1992, was used to rehouse most of the MIM collection and improve the collection storage environment.

The museum's west wing is utilized for long-term and borrowed science exhibits, designed as interactive units to appeal to the ten-year-old in all of us. The Discovery Center, a hands-on discovery area for children, and the Spectrum Theatre were opened in 1991 and the Meteorology Exhibit was completed in 1993. Community response to an appeal for funding and expertise was excellent, which guides MIM's future as a living, teaching museum and major cultural factor in the community.

Carrying this progress into all areas of the museum, the board and staff began major changes in 1990-91, including computerization and a merger with the Children's Institute of Technology and the Arts (CITA), which gained a long desired outreach program for MIM. The mobile exhibits, now called MIM ... Hands-On!, travel to outlying communities and low income areas of the Rio Grande Valley.


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