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The Witte Museum

During a recent visit to San Antonio, on a cold wintry day, since we couldn't play golf and needed to get out of the camper after 2 days of cold weather, we decided to go to the Witte Museum and the South Texas Heritage Center and we're glad that we did. The Witte Museum in San Antonio has something for everyone from 5 to 95 and the South Texas Heritage Center which is included in the price of admission is alive with the wild and vivid stories of South Texas.

The Witte Museum sits on the banks of the San Antonio River and was established in 1926. The Museum features historic artifacts and photographs, Texas art, textiles, the world-renowned Hertzberg Circus Collection, dinosaur bones, cave drawings, Texas wildlife dioramas and the four-story H-E-B Science Treehouse; in addition to nationally acclaimed traveling exhibits.

The Witte Museum is well known for excellent traveling displays and you may also want to plan your trip to the Museum based on what traveling exhibition is currently at the Museum. For example, during our visit the exhibit was "Mummies of the World" which is the world's largest collection of real mummies and related artifacts. The ancient mummies and important artifacts are from Asia, Oceania, South America, Europe, as well as ancient Egypt, dating as far back as 6,500 years.

In addition to the traveling exhibits the Witte Museum has two permanent exhibits and when we visited there were 5 other exhibits:

  • Long-term Exhibits:
    • Texas Wild: Ecology Illustrated is an interesting display of the native wildlife of Texas
    • Dinosaurs: Vanished Texans is about the dinosaurs that visited and lived in Texas hundred of years age
  • Current Exhibits:
    • Texas Performers Under the Big Top which included the oldest public collection of circus material in the world
    • Threads of South America: 2000 Years of Textiles provided an in-depth look into a variety of textiles from South America, dating back to 500 BC and spanning 2000 year of history
    • Witte Through Time is a photographic exhibition that celebrated the Whitt's 85 years by exploring historic photographs
    • Artists on the Texas Frontier was an interesting display of work of more than 20 Texas artists that lived and worked in 19th century Texas

Outside of the main building are well landscaped grounds with sculptures along the bank of the San Antonio River and some of what you'll find on the grounds include:Navarro House

  • Will Smith Amphitheater facing the River
  • Jessica and Henry Catto Memorial Garden
  • a couple log cabins
  • Navarro House
  • HEB Body Adventure Garden
  • Water Works
  • HEB Science Tree House and Little Treehouse

Kids of all ages, and lots of us adults, will love the HEB Science Tree House which is 4 stories and 15,000 square feet of hands-on science exhibits for all ages to enjoy. As soon as you open the door to the Science Tree House, the kids will scatter in all directions to try each of the hands-on science exhibits, some of which included:

  • Chair pullsit in a chair and see if you can hoist yourself to the top of the post
  • suspend a ball under an air current
  • fill a bottle with air and watch it propel itself up a rope
  • lift and drop a bowling ball to send a tennis ball soaring up a pipe and into a net
  • race coins into the black hole
  • learn about solar, wind, water, and electric energy
  • ride the skycyle suspended on a wire above the San Antonio River
  • test your climbing skills on a rock climbing wall

The South Texas Heritage Center is a two story 20,000 square foot building tells some stories about cowboys, cattle, chili queens, oil, and outlaws of South Texas. The Center features original saddles, spurs, basketry, branding irons, firearms, oil and gas artifact, cowboy art, and more. You can listen to a variety of historical narratives of Tejano freighters, chili queens, Texas Indians, ranchers and farmers.

Real life talking figure

Make sure that you check the schedule to see what live demonstrations are going on during your visit. For example, when we visited one of the HEB Science Treehouse demonstrations was on how food travels through the body and how the boy is nourished. The South Texas Heritage Center also had 3 demonstrations on the day we visited - one with a couple cowboys sitting around a campfires swapping stories about cowboy values, traditions, and cultures; another on chuck wagon cuisine; and the third 20 minute demonstration was on how cowboys and vaqueros used ropes and branding irons.

Have a fun visit.