Photos and article by Mary Alice Murphy

[Editor's Note: Members of the press were given a pre-preview of the WNMU Museum to entice people to vist during the limited preview.]

The limited preview of the Western New Mexico Museum will take place from 1-4 p.m. Friday, July 20, 2018, on the WNMU campus as part of Clay Festival activities.The bright walls, multiple fixed windows and new lighting make the museum bright, airy and modern.

Fleming Hall, which was built 100 years ago in June, 1918, has housed basketball games and classrooms. Faint basketball lines are still slightly visible on the original maple floors, which have been recently refinished.

Museum Director Cynthia Bettison said the museum, which will close again immediately after the limited preview, is striving for a grand opening next year during the Clay Festival, along with the museum's traditional Black-and-White Gala.

Several of the display cases show the step-by-step pottery making process, with fired and unfired pieces. On the wall across from these cases visitors will see a timeline from the early agricultural period to post-classic, according to Bettison.

The exhibits are designed with new glass and steel display cases to show off the artifacts, which include the largest Mimbres pottery collection in the world.

"It won't look the same as people who have visited many times expect," Bettison said. "The cases are made to focus on the pots and other artifacts."

She said it is taking a lot of work to put the museum "back together. But what you see today is the basis of everything that you will see."

Another case shows the maize beer process. Pots in another case provide samples of the general Mogollon area pottery, pots from Casas Grandes, polychrome pottery, and slip pottery, which mean painted on the surface.

Fleming Hall was part of the New Mexico Normal School, founded in 1893. It is named after Col. John W. Fleming, then mayor of Silver City.

Per newspaper articles at the time, the land was donated was donated by townspeople to the Town of Silver City and then given by the Town Council to the NM Normal School at Silver City Board of Regents. Fleming was Mayor and a member of the Board of Regents at that time, and J.P. Carr, Town Finance Director (really Town Manager) was the Secretary of the Board of Regents at the time. The Board accepted the donation from the Town at their meeting, which was a few days before the Town Council took official action to donate the land.

The renovated museum lets the outside in with views in three directions to let visitors see the environment of the hall and the university, out to the mountains in the distance.

A small gift shop, in the planning stage, will offer items for visitors and guests. History of the creation of what is now Western New Mexico University will be highlighted, and a small mining museum, will feature what brought the city into being and caused the area's development.

Featured items for the preview include a notebook of Bettison's archaeological field notes when she worked at the Nan Ranch in the Mimbres; items from Harry Shafer, who was the principal investigator from the Texas A & M field school at Nan Ranch; as well as recognition of former U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, who grew up in Silver City. Bettison called the case, "director's and staff's choice."

As part of the upgrading of the museum, graduate students in the future will choose a piece of pottery and research its provenance and history. "I want students to be engaged. They will be able to Instagram and Snapchat their work. It will engage people who come to the museum. We want to truly be a university museum."

The main floor of the museum is on the third floor of the building. On the top floor, the fourth floor, the director plans an interactive exhibit for parents and grandparents and students of all ages. Lower floors were classrooms and will be exhibit spaces.

"We still have a lot to do," Bettison said. "The July 20 event from 1-4 p.m. is a one-time sneak peek."

Content on the Beat

WARNING: All articles and photos with a byline or photo credit are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Disclaimer: If you find errors in articles not written by the Beat team but sent to us from other content providers, please contact the writer, not the Beat. For example, obituaries are always provided by the funeral home or a family member. We can fix errors, but please give details on where the error is so we can find it. News releases from government and non-profit entities are posted generally without change, except for legal notices, which incur a small charge.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was written by someone not affiliated with the Beat and then sent to the Beat for posting.

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists. And check out the old faithfuls who continue to provide content.

Newsletter: If you opt in to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option above this to the right, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Submitting to the Beat

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as for the editor.

Advertising: Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ads on the Beat.

Classifieds: We have changed Classifieds to a cheaper and shorter option. Check periodically to see if any new ones have popped up. The former software failed us, so it's just a category now, with prices posted. Send your information to and we will post it as soon as we can. Instructions and prices are on the page.

Editor's Notes

It has come to this editor's attention that people are sending information to the Grant County Beat Facebook page. Please be aware that the editor does not regularly monitor the page. If you have items you want to send to the editor, please send them to Thanks!

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News. Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—

Feel free to notify if you notice any technical problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.  The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised.