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Community Spotlight: Roswell, NM, the Power of Placemaking!

January 9, 2020 | Community Spotlight: Roswell, NM, the Power of Placemaking! | By: Abby Armato, Communications Coordinator, NMSC |
roswell_blog_image.pngFrom its annual UFO Festival to the International UFO Museum & Research Center, Roswell, New Mexico, certainly knows how to attract visitors to celebrate unidentified flying objects. But checking out crop circles does not necessarily mean these visitors are also checking out the commercial corridor. How to move tourists from these extraterrestrial attractions to the downtown? MainStreet Roswell has a solution: public art.

Their star-filled mural merges Roswell’s appreciation for their UFO history with place-based economic strategies. Painted on an external wall of the International UFO Museum & Research Center, this interstellar scene encourages visitors to stop instead of returning to the parking lot. While interacting with the mural, guests have a chance to see the storefronts of downtown, “enticing them to look around a little more,” said Kathy Lay, Executive Director of MainStreet Roswell. “It will invite them walk a little farther, shop/eat a little more, which will bring more customers to the downtown district.”

Painted at the ground level, the mural appears as though the sidewalk extends right up to the door of a flying saucer. Guests can snap the perfect extraterrestrial selfie before detouring the Main Street. “We are also hoping the selfies will inspire a ‘gotta go there’ selfie destination,” says Lay, “which will encourage more people to drive a little farther to take their photos there too.”

To celebrate the mural’s completion, MainStreet Roswell is hosting a selfie contest. UFO selfie-takers are encouraged to post their photos online using a collection of mural-themed hashtags, such as #showmethemuralroswell. One lucky winner will be selected at the end of the 2020 UFO Festival this summer to receive a gift package full of goodies from the Festival and downtown businesses.

“Since the mural has been completed, I am seeing larger groups of people gathering on the north side of the building to take photos,” says Lay. “I see them looking around at the shops, walking across the street to visit them, and I believe the number of visitors who do that will continue to grow because of this mural!”

The mural was designed by local artist Larry Bob Phillips, the director of the Roswell-Artist-in-Residence program. This project was funded by a grant from the New Mexico Resiliency Alliance with a matching grant from the International UFO Museum & Research Museum.