When was the last time you saw a 17th century shipwreck or sat behind the president’s desk in the Oval Office? If, like me, you’re not a big football fan, you might do both this fall. Consider taking some day trips on weekends to visit the fantastic museums in our area.
After a 20-year excavation process, La Salle’s ship the La Belle, along with its 1.6 million artifacts, is finally available for viewing in Austin at the Bullock State History Museum. Also in Austin are several other high-quality museums, including the Blanton Museum of Art at UT, and the Umlauf sculpture garden near Barton Springs. Incidentally, Austin Museum Day is Sunday, September 20, when the public has free access to over 40 cultural institutions. A short drive in the opposite direction will take you to Waco, the home of several excellent museums, including the Mayborn Museum, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, the Dr. Pepper Museum, and the Waco Mammoth National Monument.
A bit farther, but still within a day’s drive are the multitude of museums in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio. You could have lunch with an astronaut at the Space Center, ponder modernist paintings at The Modern, or try on a theater costume at the McNay. A three-hour drive southwest takes you to Kerrville, where you can see some of the best work of the Cowboy Artists at the Museum of Western Art. Stephanie Turnham, formerly the Director of the Bell County Museum, is in her fourth month as Executive Director of the MOWA. On Saturday, September 19, Turnham and her staff are hosting their annual “Party”, which features a private art exhibition and sale, along with food and musical entertainment. Call 830-896-2553 for ticket information.
We are fortunate to have three museums in Texas that honor past presidents – the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin, the George W. Bush Library and Museum in Dallas, and the George H. W. Bush Library and Museum in College Station. Each offers records, artifacts, and related media from their times in office, as well as more current exhibits. I have a great picture of my dear mother sitting behind a replica of George W.’s desk in the mockup of his Oval Office. And I loved the tribute there to Laura’s time as a school librarian.
Speaking of the Bell County Museum, we are pleased to welcome Beverly Hadley to her new position as Director. Hadley joins curator Emily Dossman, assistant Niki Vaughan, and the BCM Board of Directors in welcoming everyone to visit the “Jewel of Bell County” in the near future. If you’ve not visited the BCM recently, do yourself a favor and go. And take along the youngsters. Be sure to show them the large photograph of the Bell County family picking cotton. Maybe then they won’t mind doing their chores so much! The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday and admission is free to the public. A new exhibit, “Let Children Be Children, Child Labor through the lens of Lewis Hines”, opens Saturday, September 5. Support our jewel by becoming a member. To join, call Niki at 254-933-5243.
Remember to do an online search for discounted admission coupons before you go to those museums that charge an admission. And don’t forget that museums depend upon our financial support. Donations and memberships are generally considered to be tax-deductible.
Michael Brown is an education consultant and former teacher. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.