Category Archives: Inclusion & Tolerance

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!

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Moundville Archaeological Park & Museum

moundmuseumTuscaloosa, Alabama is home to the Moundville Archaeological Park and is today’s “Museum of the Day”.

Opened and dedicated on May 16, 1939 at what was then known as “Mound State Monument,” built with labor from the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1999, The University of Alabama Museums began a comprehensive effort to rebuild and redefine the museum, resulting in a $5 million renovation completed in 2010. Today, the museum combines the latest technology with more than 200 stunning artifacts to describe one of the most significant Native American archaeological sites in the United States.

Outside, visitors are greeted by symbols of the Native American culture mounted on enormous wooden heraldic poles. Inside, visitors will find life-size figures displaying the clothing and jewelry of Mississippian cultures, ceremonial feather decorations hand-sewn by Native-American artists, stunning pottery and other artworks placed in display cases that light up when recorded narratives talk about them and three-dimensional, moving depiction of a Native American maker of medicine who appears in a reconstructed earthlodge, taking them on a journey into the afterlife.

Archaeological sites have always fascinated me, and I hope to visit this one sometime in the coming year!

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Museum of African Art & Culture

e5ccf9_970728786cf5aeb8249a321770cd8c35.jpeg_srz_p_555_763_75_22_0.50_1.20_0Portland, Maine is home of one of the most culturally specific museums about African art and culture, today’s “Museum of the Day” is a relatively new addition to cultural diversity in Maine.

The Museum of African Culture was founded by Oscar Mokeme and Art Aleshire and opened on August 8, 1998 in Portland Maine. It is the only institution in northern New England devoted exclusively to sub-Saharan African arts and culture. There are over 1,500 pieces in the collection of the museum, ranging from large-scale, elaborately carved wooden masks to smaller scale figures, cast copper alloy (bronze) figures, textiles, utilitarian objects, ceramic, bone, ivory and composite objects.

The oldest mask in the collection dates back to 1600 AD. Many of the bronzes are 1,000 years old and the ivory flutes and clay vessels are up to 2,000 years old. These pieces are important as they preserve the religious and cultural legacy of Africa that is fast disappearing in a globalized world.

The permanent exhibit features an extensive display of African masks. In addition to the permanent gallery, the museum has a Heritage Gallery with rotating exhibits featuring themes that include art from all over Sub-saharan Africa. The contemporary gallery has rotating exhibits that feature art inspired by the African Diaspora, and is home of the Black Artist Forum.

I know I would really enjoy to visit and learn more about the museum and its collections from the founding director.

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Basque Museum and Cultural Center

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Boise, Idaho is home to the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, today’s “Museum of the Day”.

Boise, Idaho has long been a central location where Basque immigrants first congregated after coming to the United States from the Spanish Basque Region. As immigrants established their lives here, Basques became well-known for their hard work and perseverance. The Mission of the Basque Museum & Cultural Center is to preserve, promote, and perpetuate Basque history and culture.

The Basque Museum & Cultural Center provides a look into the Basque heritage through exhibits, collections, and tours. As a cultural center, it’s a gathering place for events and educational opportunities – in which people of all backgrounds can take part in Basque activities.

The Basque Museum and Cultural Center was established in 1985 as a small museum in the historic Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga House at 607 Grove Street. Located in scenic Boise, Idaho, the Basque Museum & Cultural Center provides a look into the heritage of the Basque communities of Idaho and surrounding areas. Through hard work and the support of many people, businesses, foundations, and Basque communities, the Museum began to interpret the rich and colorful history of the Basques, their origins, and their new life in America.

The 611 Grove Street property became the primary facility for the Museum’s operations in 1993. As artifact donations and exhibition development increased, so did the need for more space. Displays, classrooms, a library, a kitchen and a Museum Store became part of the renewed space. Over the years, thanks to many dedicated people, the Museum has grown tremendously in facilities and services and has become an Idaho cultural institution.

The mission of the Basque Museum and Cultural Center is to preserve, promote and perpetuate Basque history and culture. The only Basque language preschool outside of the Basque Country, has been established as part of this mission.

Museum collections include oral history archives, a library, a collection of records & tapes, manuscript materials, and many artifacts and photographs. It is the home of significant resources for anyone interested in Basque history and culture.

As support and participation increase, the Museum will be able to offer more educational programs, develop and enhance permanent exhibits, implement technological improvements, manage collections, and promote Basque social activities.

I’ve always been fascinated by the culture of the Basque region in Spain, this is a great way to see how their culture developed in the United States. I look forward to a visit when I finally get to Utah!

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New Orleans African American Museum

DSC_6147New Orleans, Louisiana is home to today’s “Museum of the Day” – a great little museum tucked away in one of the United States of America’s most historic and architecturally interesting cities, the New Orleans African American Museum (NOAAM).

Located in Tremé, the oldest surviving black community in the United States, NOAAM is dedicated to protecting, preserving, and promoting through education the history, art, and culture of African Americans in New Orleans and the African diaspora.

The Museum is housed in the beautiful Tremé Villa, considered by some to be one of the finest examples of a Creole villa in the city. Built in 1828-29, the home retains many of its original decorative details. There are five restored buildings to visit. Visitors enjoy both established and emerging artists’ work in sculpture, painting and other artistic expressions.

Located on the site of a former plantation, the beautifully landscaped grounds cover one city block. There are three main courtyards on the front, rear, and side which also features a lovely gazebo in the center of the yard.

I look forward to visiting on my next trip to New Orleans!

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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!

The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum

oahu-free-bishops-museum-interior-full1Aloha! Welcome to Honolulu, Hawai’i for today’s “Museum of the Day”. It’s one of the best comprehensive museum experiences in the state.

The Bishop Museum was founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop in honor of his late wife, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last descendant of the royal Kamehameha family. The Museum was established to house the extensive collection of Hawaiian artifacts and royal family heirlooms of the Princess, and has expanded to include millions of artifacts, documents and photographs about Hawai‘i and other Pacific island cultures.

Mr. Bishop built the magnificent Polynesian and Hawaiian Halls on the grounds of the original Kamehameha Schools for Boys. The Museum and School shared the Kapālama campus until 1940 when a new larger school complex was opened nearby on Kapālama Heights.

Today, Bishop Museum is the largest museum in the state and the premier natural and cultural history institution in the Pacific, recognized throughout the world for its cultural collections, research projects, consulting services and public educational programs. It also has one of the largest natural history specimen collections in the world. Serving and representing the interests of Native Hawaiians is a primary purpose of the Museum.

The Museum also operates the Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden on the island of Hawai‘i.

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Natural History Museum of Utah

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The Natural History Museum of Utah is located in Salt Lake City at the University of Utah. The museum is located in a new building that opened on 11/19/11 and is situated in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, overlooking Salt Lake City and inspired by the diverse landscape of Utah.

The $103 million Rio Tinto Center, funded by a public and private partnership, is deeply rooted in place and infused with multiple features that embrace both traditional and new media techniques – a new Museum that sets a new standard for a Natural History Museum of the 21st Century.

For over four decades, the Natural History Museum of Utah has connected Utah residents and tourists alike with the natural wonders and native cultures that define Utah.  As an active research institution with a remarkable and growing collection of more than 1.2 million specimens and objects, the Museum is an extraordinary cultural and educational asset for understanding the world. Over the years, the Museum has garnered the respect and affection of visitors, state and local leaders, scientists and museum professionals through programs of sustained excellence in the areas of public education, scientific research, collections preservation and environmental stewardship.

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National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Instagram_mandelaquoteOpened on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati in 2004, the mission of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is to reveal stories of freedom’s heroes, from the era of the Underground Railroad to contemporary times, challenging and inspiring everyone to take courageous steps of freedom today. A history museum with more than 100,000 visitors annually, it serves to inspire modern abolition through connecting the lessons of the Underground Railroad with today’s freedom fighters.  The center is also a convener of dialogue on freedom and human rights.

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National Museum of Mexican Art

Chicago, IL

About

Founded in 1982 by a group of Chicago Public School teachers with a starting budget of $900, the National Museum of Mexican Art is the only Latino museum in the country that is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

What to expect

With 7,000 objects, the National Museum of Mexican Art’s permanent collection is one of the largest collections of Mexican art in the country.

Tours / Technology

All year round, the Museum’s Education Department offers English, Spanish or bilingual tours of our permanent and temporary exhibitions.  Tours are tailored to all ages (including parents) and offer visitors an opportunity to learn about art and culture through the artwork on display and the thematic content explored by the exhibition.  In addition, visiting artists will often offer live demonstrations of artistic techniques featured in the exhibitions.


Collection highlight

The Museum strives to maintain, preserve and acquire works for its collection that reflect the diversity and quality of Mexican art in the following categories: Pre-Cuauhtémoc, ephemera, textiles, folk art, prints and drawings, photography, and paintings and sculptures.

Accessibility

Admission is FREE. Memberships available. ADA compliant.

Accreditation

American Alliance of Museums

Social Media

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