Category Archives: City

Witte Museum

1175366_f520San Antonio, Texas is where you’ll find today’s “Museum of the Day,” the Witte Museum.

Located on the banks of the beautiful San Antonio River in Brackenridge Park, the Witte Museum is San Antonio’s premier museum focusing on South Texas history, science and water resources.

The story of the Witte Museum is one of community vision and dedication that created an institution and has sustained it for 80 years. It is the story of men and women from diverse walks of life whose creativity was challenged as they raised funds literally one penny at a time to establish the museum that we still enjoy three quarters of a century later. The Witte Museum has proven as resilient as those who founded it. It has survived the Depression and wars, and in the 21st century remains the most heavily visited of San Antonio’s museums.

San Antonio was a modern, thriving town in the early twentieth century, but lacked many of the cultural institutions that marked other great American cities. Notably, there was no public museum. Local residents relied on privately owned exhibits of art and zoological collections to provide them a glimpse of the wonders of the artistic and natural world. Unlike other cities, San Antonio in the early 1900s had no men and women of extravagant wealth to build their cultural institutions. Instead, the Witte Museum was the product of a disparate group of individuals that included the owner of a large natural history collection, H.P. Attwater, prominent clubwomen including Lena McAllister and Ethel Tunstall Drought, and Mayor John Tobin. They were inspired by a local high school teacher, Ellen Schulz, who envisioned a public museum for the enjoyment of all San Antonians.

Ellen Schulz was aware that H.P. Attwater’s renowned collection was for sale, and after seeing it in 1922 she became determined to acquire it for San Antonio. By early 1923, schoolchildren were standing on street corners calling, “Spare a dime?” and community leaders had formed an organization they called the San Antonio Museum Association to assist in the effort. Through sales of bluebonnets, cakes and performances of “Peter Pan” and “Los Pastores,” the community contributed $6,200 to purchase the Attwater Collection, install it at Main Avenue High School, and open the city’s first public museum on October 8, 1923.

Even before the museum opened, Lena McAllister suggested to Schulz that a formal museum be organized and constructed. The idea took hold as the Attwater Collection’s popularity inspired other donors and the museum soon outgrew its home. By 1924, Schulz, accompanied by her friend and high school principal, Emma Gutzeit, visited Mayor Tobin to enlist the city’s support to build a museum. Though the mayor reportedly first inquired, “What is a museum?” he was eventually converted to the cause. He was even convinced by Ethel Tunstall Drought, president of the San Antonio Art League, that the museum needed a second story where her organization’s growing art collection could be displayed. Led by Tobin, the city committed land in San Pedro Park, and on June 22, 1925, approved $25,000 for construction of the building. Ground was broken for the new museum on September 22, 1925, and then, two days later, local businessman Alfred G. Witte died.

Museum advocates and the mayor were not aware that Alfred Witte, in his will dated June 6, 1921, bequeathed $65,000 to the City of San Antonio for construction of a museum of art, science and natural history to be located in Brackenridge Park and named for his parents. Within three weeks of Witte’s death, work was halted on the San Pedro Park museum and Mayor Tobin and Park Commissioner Ray Lambert selected a new location at the “third entrance” to Brackenridge Park (today Tuleta Drive) on River Avenue (today Broadway). Architect Robert Ayres shifted building materials to the site, enlarged the museum design to include two wings made possible by Witte’s generosity, and construction proceeded. Less than one year later, at a grand community celebration on October 8, 1926, the Witte Memorial Museum opened to the public. Anticipating the future, the San Antonio Express-News remarked, “The Witte Memorial Museum has a great field of service before it.” It was the realization of many dreams and the beginning of a long and interesting story.

I know a few staff members at the Witte, and look forward to visiting with them when I’m in San Antonio again. It’s always a welcoming place to visit!

WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

Advertisements

Old Cowtown Museum

Randy-&-Town

Wichita, Kansas is home to the Old Cowtown Museum, today’s “Museum of the Day”.

Cowtown is a living history museum where visitors experience life in the 1870s. Immersed in a sampling of the sights, sounds and activities common to a Midwestern cattle town, visitors will experience the dramatic clash of Victorian ideals and economic realities as these competing forces strove to create an economically viable cattle town and a Victorian metropolis.

A visit can include a wagon ride, the ring of the blacksmith anvil, and a visit to the humble home of the town’s founder, Darius Munger.
The experience here is all “living” history, so visitors walk away with a full-on sense of life in the 1870s.

I always enjoy interacting with live actors and will visit this museum when I travel to Kansas!

WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture

1253Baltimore, Maryland, one of the best cities for arts & culture, is home to many of my all-time favorite museums. Today’s “Museum of the Day” pays tribute to the history and culture of African Americans in Maryland. The Reginald F. Lewis Museum opened in 2005, during my tenure in the city.

It is one of the largest museums of its type and features permanent and temporary exhibits, theater facility, café and shop in the heart of downtown Baltimore.

The museum is named after Reginald F. Lewis (1942-1993). Born in Baltimore, Lewis was an entrepreneur and philanthropist who served as chair and chief executive officer of TLC Beatrice International, the largest U.S. company owned by an African American during his lifetime.

The museum’s mission is: To be the premier experience and best resource for information and inspiration about the lives of African American Marylanders.

The museum brings Maryland African American history and culture to life through its permanent galleries and educational programs. It also shares the broader African American experience through special exhibitions, lectures and a variety of events.

The 82,000 square-foot facility accommodates over 13,000 square feet of permanent and temporary exhibition space, a two-story theater, resource center, museum gift shop, café, classrooms, meeting rooms, an outdoor terrace, and reception areas.

The museum provides dynamic educational programs for both children and adults and is especially proud of its partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education. The museum’s education department has developed curricula and provided teacher training to reach more than 850,000 students and 50,000 teachers.

An important educational resource and a well-planned museum, The Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore is another museum I look forward to revisiting soon!

Amsterdam Museum

schutters

Saturday is INTERNATIONAL Museum of the Day, and today’s museum stands out as one of the best interpretive museums I’ve ever visited. It’s been several years since my visit to Amsterdam, but I still recall how wonderful and robust the exhibits were at this wonderful little museum.

Amsterdam’s city museum is a wonderful meeting place for Amsterdammers and THE museum for Dutch people wanting to learn more about their capital. Amsterdam Museum tells the story of the city of Amsterdam: its past, present and future.

Amsterdam Museum Amsterdam: a world city? Yes, but also small, quaint and strong-minded. Home to Johan Cruijff, Rembrandt, Ajax, the Red Light District, the Dutch East India Company and marijuana. The capital of the Netherlands. A 1000-year-old trading city that has a special relationship with water and a strong focus on entrepreneurship, creativity, citizenship and free-thinking. In the monumental Amsterdam Museum building you will discover the story of Amsterdam through a large number of masterpieces, such as an aerial map from the Middle Ages, Breitner’s The Dam, a lesson on anatomy from Rembrandt, the Witkar and a portrait of Theo van Gogh. See, read about, hear and experience how the city has developed in the Amsterdam Museum.