Texas Tech University

Museum Celebrates 90th Anniversary

The Museum of Texas Tech University celebrates its 90th anniversary during 2019. Join us through the year as we show off the Museum's history and some of our extraordinary collections.


Opening in June
Evolution of a Museum: In Building and Purpose


90th logoHistory of the Museum

The museum began in 1929 when a group of citizens interested in preserving the history and culture of the region formed the Plains Museum Society.

Among that first group of museum supporters was William Curry Holden, who had recently joined the faculty of the then Texas Technological College. He would become the Museum's first director, serving until 1965.

In 1935, the Plains Museum Society presented resolutions to the College's Board of Directors to not only include the Museum Society in the school's budget but also to provide a space to display museum objects to the public.

The Texas legislature in 1935 provided $25,000 for a museum. Sixty-seven West Texas counties had worked to secure funding and support for the museum. To reflect the broad public support, the group changed its name to the West Texas Museum Association.

In 1937, the West Texas Museum opened on the northeast corner of the circle on the Texas Technological College's campus (in what is now Holden Hall) with only the basement level. An addition opened in 1950 completed the building. The Museum hurd painting muralcommissioned renowned artist Peter Hurd to paint a major artwork, the "South Plains Mural" that circles the building's rotunda. The mural celebrates West Texas pioneers.

In 1968, construction began on the current facility located at the southeast corner of Fourth Street and Indiana Avenue. The first phase of the new facility opened in 1970 with a new name, the Museum of Texas Tech University. The West Texas Museum Association changed its name to the Museum of Texas Tech University about two decades later.

Today, the Museum is home to more than eight million objects and operates several facilities, including the Moody Planetarium, the Natural Science Research Laboratory, and the Lubbock Lake Landmark

The Moody Planetarium transports audiences around the solar system and across the universe. The Planetarium also features laser shows set to the music of classic rock and roll superstars.

On the south side of the Museum, the Natural Science Research Laboratory is a major facility for research into the diversity of animal life in Texas and farther afield. Its mammal and frozen tissue collections are of international significance.

Less than a 10-minute drive north of the Museum is the Lubbock Lake Landmark. This archaeological site reveals human occupation stretching back 12,000 years. The Landmark's more than 300 acres are a window into the past that shows the short grass prairie and other rich plant life that flourished in the area before Europeans arrived on the scene.