Devasthali Hall, the new home for New Mexico State University’s Department of Art and University Art Museum will have its grand opening for the community starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28 at Devasthali Hall, 1308 E. University. The event begins with a ribbon cutting, followed by reception and tours of the building as well as other activities. The reception is free and open to the public.
“A new Arts facility for the students and faculty at NMSU has been a dream of ours for a very long time,” said NMSU Regent Ammu Devasthali. “Thanks to our southern New Mexico legislators who helped pass the GO Bond, our many friends who donated to this project, the NMSU administration and NMSU Foundation that backed this effort, our faculty and staff who worked tirelessly with the architects and contractors, we are able to realize this dream. It truly took a village and we are eternally grateful to ours.”
The ribbon cutting at 6:30 p.m. will include NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu, President John Floros and Regent Devasthali as well as Enrico Pontelli, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Devasthali, who has been a long-time supporter of the arts in the region, spearheaded community efforts in raising private funds to help build the new facility. The building is named to honor Devasthali and her husband Rama.
"Ammu and Rama Devasthali have devoted much of their lives to advancing arts in southern New Mexico,” said NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu. "Together, these two wonderful individuals have helped raise a tremendous amount of public and private funding to help further the success of our students at NMSU. We are grateful and greatly appreciate that we have such generous and strong supporters of our university and especially with their passion and focus on the arts."
Construction began in March 2018 to replace the 78-year-old former gymnasium, which had housed NMSU’s Department of Art and University Art Museum since the early 1970s. While the old building was being torn down, Devasthali Hall was completed and opened to students and faculty in fall 2019.
The new art facility supports a wide variety media-based research in museum conservation, ceramics, drawing and painting, graphic design, jewelry, metalsmithing, photography, printmaking, sculpture and art history.
“The Department of Art serves more than 130 majors; in the spring 2020 semester alone, more than 2,000 student credit hours are in art,” said Pontelli, “Creating a specially designed space for our art students equipped with state-of-the-art tools not only helps our students, but also helps the economy of New Mexico since nearly one in 10 jobs in the state is related to the arts and culture industry. As the demand by U.S. companies for an innovative, creative workforce continues to grow, NMSU now has the top-of-the-line facilities to match our outstanding faculty to take our programs to the next level. This facility also opens the doors to new opportunities for exploring collaboration between art and other disciplines.”
Ammu and Rama Devasthali have contributed just under $2.8 million to the arts at NMSU. The new art facility was years in the making with members of the community raising millions in funding over more than 10 years to support NMSU’s new art space, along with the $22.5 million general obligation bond approved by voters in November 2016.
“Because of the support from Rama and Ammu, the face of the arts has changed for both our community and our university,” said Leslie Cervantes, interim vice president for University Advancement. “Their lifetime giving to the arts and specifically to the construction of Devasthali Hall will have a positive impact on our students, faculty, staff and citizens for generations to come. We are continually inspired by the dedication and generosity of the Devasthalis.”