D.W. Williams Hall was built in 1938, originally as a gymnasium. It was converted to house the Department of Art in 1972, but does not have the adequate space for learning, teaching, or storage. For example, the building still has the ORIGINAL concrete bleachers built into the then-gymnasium. The building has only about half the usable square footage necessary to accommodate its current programs, limiting enrollment.
The Department of Art serves approximately 200 undergraduate and graduate students each year, as well as over 1,000 non-art majors. The Department is the seventh largest department by major in the College of Arts and Sciences. Their students focus is on interdisciplinary arts education, with facilities that support education and research in art history, drawing and painting, printmaking, graphic design and media arts, photography, jewelry and metalsmithing, ceramics, sculpture, art conservation and 3D fabrication. NMSU is the only institution of higher education in the state of New Mexico that offers a Masters of Fine Arts focused on ceramics or in jewelry and metalsmithing. NMSU offers a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Museum Conservation, one of only three such programs in the country.
Williams Hall is also home to the University Art Gallery, which served both the community and the teaching mission through programming that brings national and international caliber artists to Southern New Mexico. The art gallery brings about 10,000 visitors a year and has a permanent collection of 4,200 art works. Over 1000 of them create the largest publicly held collection of retablos.
Recognizing the need for renovations, the private community has already donated over $800,000 for the building.