Lori Jacobson

MCALLEN INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM. McAllen International Museum, an art and science museum in McAllen, began through the efforts of a dedicated group of Junior Service League women who approached the McAllen City Commission with a successful proposal for the city's first museum. An instructor in the art department at Edinburg Junior College, Rudolph Pharis, was one of the leaders responsible for planning the museum, which was chartered in June 1967. Operations started in 1969 in a 5,000-square-foot facility renovated by volunteers. MIM was accredited in 1985. In a city bond election in June 1974 McAllen citizens voted to construct the present 21,000-square-foot museum building. The board of trustees initiated a fund-raising campaign for $400,000 for exhibits, furnishings, and landscaping, and the new building was dedicated on July 2, 1976. The building and grounds are maintained by the city; the contents and operations of the museum are under the administration of a thirty-member board. The city provides about 40 percent of the annual budget, and the rest is raised through memberships and fund-raisers. During the first decade of operation the museum's permanent acquisitions were in the arts, history, and the sciences. In 1982 the board narrowed its focus to the arts and sciences. Both exhibitions of the permanent collection and traveling exhibitions are changed every four to eight weeks, so that the museum mounts more than thirty exhibitions annually.

The collecting emphasis in the arts is on Mexican folk art and contemporary art of the region. An annual acquisitions allocation provides money for two or three collecting trips to Mexico each year. A collection of fine contemporary prints, largely American and European, has been acquired through gifts and purchases. In 1979 a collection of twenty-one European paintings, dating from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, was donated. The science collections consist primarily of rocks, minerals, and seashells; the museum maintains a traveling hands-on science exhibit for children. A docent program provides tours, projects, and lectures for more than 15,000 schoolchildren annually. The museum's first major publication, Changing Faces: Mexican Masks in Transition, was published in 1985 in conjunction with a traveling exhibit organized by the museum staff. The museum's Rosita C. Alcorn Library houses 2,000 volumes including a strong Latin-American art reference section. In 1993 the museum collection totaled about 6,000 pieces, the museum had a staff of seventeen, and 80,000 visitors attended.

Marjie Mugno, "Young Museum Coming of Age," Texas Highways, June 1972. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Lori Jacobson, "MCALLEN INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM," accessed June 20, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox