If you’re looking for a brush with culture on your way out to west Texas stop by the Ellen Noël Art Museum in Midland’s sister city of Odessa. Opened in 1985, the Ellen Noël Art Museum of the Permian Basin is a Smithsonian Affiliate, one of only two art museums in Texas granted this status. It’s impressive permanent collection, along with eclectic changing exhibits, has helped to bring America and the rest of the world to Odessa’s doorstep. The Noël is the place to see a mask from Macau or a pair of dazzling, golden slippers from India and to discover the artwork of American artists between 1860 and the present including Thomas Hart Benton, Rufino Tamayo, Juane Quick-to-See Smith, and Luis Jimenez.
Step outside the galleries and into the Noël’s George and Milly Rhodus Sculpture and Sensory Garden and witness the west Texas sun, air and ambience blend with the textures and sounds of sculptural whimsy. Three dimensional works incorporate the senses and a variety of elements, providing an opportunity to interact with art. Strike the gong, inhale the fragrance, and indulge the touch. Here the artistry of the human hand and nature’s creation collide in a perfect blend of light, sight, and sound. Best of all, the museum admission is free.