The Institute of Texas Cultures, run by the University of Texas at San Antonio and affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC may sound like a real yawner for kids . . . but it’s not.
When I was a child, I remember visiting the museum (although that’s not quite the right word for what it is . . . ) several times with my parents. So when we decided to go on a San Antonio mini-vacation, I knew this was one of the spots we would visit.
Located in Hemisphere Park, the Institute of Texan Cultures is a museum/historical recreation/learning center devoted to the different cultures of the people of Texas. No matter what your nationality or background, there’s a section of the museum devoted to that immigrant group.
From Native American to Mexican to Swedish, Czech, German, Japanese and African – there’s a display which showcases these ethnicities and their contributions to Texas.
Since our family’s background tends to be a mishmash of European (Czech, German, Polish, English, Irish, Norwegian, Danish, and a smattering of either Native American or Mexican), we gravitated towards those areas, while still learning about other cultures.
At the Institute of Texan Culturesthere were also volunteers scattered throughout the museum demonstrating skills from the past or from their heritage. The boys enjoyed watching (and helping) a volunteer weave a rug in one section of the building,
then learning about grinding corn for tortillas in another.
Being boys, my guys particularly enjoyed the display devoted to Texas cattle drives with a diorama containing a chuck wagon, life-size longhorn, and a real-life cowboy explaining how the steers were driven from South Texas to the stockyards of Ft. Worth.
And although it may sound hokey, I really enjoyed (and okay, got a little choked up) during a video presentation that underscored the main theme of the Institute of Texan Cultures – that no matter what your nationality or where you were born, if you live in Texas (and I’m still claiming my citizenship, no matter what my address), then you’re a Texan.