San Jacinto Museum of History Celebrates 75th Anniversary
Exhibits honor opening of San Jacinto Monument in 1939
The day was April 20, 1939. On the site of the epic San Jacinto Battle that launched the Republicof Texas—and one day shy of the battle’s 103rd anniversary—the doors to the San JacintoMonumentand Museum opened to the world. Two extensive online photo galleries (Dedication Gallery and Celebrating 75) and a free lobby exhibit in the San Jacinto Monument now relive that historic day 75 years ago, as the world entered the country’s tallest monument for the ﬁrst time.
These online and lobby exhibits showcase photographs, newspaper clippings, documents and artifacts from the San Jacinto Museum’s archives about the grand opening of the monument, giving insights into the dynamics of the late 1930s, and looking at the collecting history of the museum over the past 75 years.
“Even before the museum was opened, donors were leaving artifacts to the state ofTexasto become part of a history museum ‘whenever it was established inTexas,’” says Larry Spasic, president, San Jacinto Museum of History Association. “When the doors finally opened in 1939, those items, along with a wealth of loans—many of which would later become donations—were on display for the public to see. In the decades that followed, the size of the collections continued to grow.”
“While the mission of the San Jacinto Museum remains to ‘collect and preserve significant historical materials which relate to the early history and culture of Texas, and to promote the study of the history of Texas through exhibits, publications, and educational programs,’ the scope of the collection has expanded to meet many of the changes and challenges faced by the museum in the seven-plus decades of its operations,” adds Robert B. Hixon, chairman of the Board, San Jacinto Museum.
Expansion Plans: The Museum Association is in the throes of an expansion plan that will revitalize the San Jacinto Museum and the park to a degree not seen since the Monument was built and opened 75 years ago. The centerpiece of the plan is the construction of the “San Jacinto Museum of History Association Annex and Visitors Center” that will include additional exhibit space to promote the study and research of the region’s history. It will also include a visitor’s center to convey an accurate interpretation of the significance of the park. “Just as the Monument was a gift to all Texans, Americans and their guests over the last three quarters of a century, the new visitor’s center will be the Association’s gift to our future guests for decades to come,” adds Spasic. “This is a wonderful and significant way to mark the 75th anniversary of the opening of the San Jacinto Monument and Museum.”
At 567 feet tall, the San Jacinto Monument is the tallest stone column memorial in the world, measuring 12’ taller than the Washington Monument. The octagonal monument was constructed from 1936 to 1939 to commemorate the heroes of the Battle of San Jacinto—the decisive victory of the outnumbered Texians over the Mexican forces that led to the independence ofTexas. Built ofTexas fossilized buff limestone reinforced with concrete, it is widely recognized as one of the best examples of Moderne architecture in the nation and has received the prestigious designation of Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Visitors can ascend the nearly 500-foot elevator ride to the observation deck—one of the highest vantage points in the greater Houston area—to view the sprawling San Jacinto Battlegrounds, the Battleship Texas, the skyline of Houston, and the Houston Ship Channel, one of the busiest waterways in the U.S.
Another ongoing celebration of the Monument was launched on July 4 of this year: the Monument EarthCam. Found at www.sanjacinto-museum.org or www.earthcam.com, the Monument EarthCam and its Android app provide live-streaming video, 24/7, from atop the monument with real-time views of the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, Battleship Texas, the Houston Ship Channel and the skyline of Houston. Joining other prestigious U.S. landmarks with EarthCams including the Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls, Dealey Plaza, Washington Monument, Time Square and Mount Rushmore, the San Jacinto Monument Cam is the first EarthCam collaboration in aTexas state park. It is mounted 540’ in the air, directly beneath the 220-ton “Lone Star of Texas,” which perches atop theSan JacintoMonument. Online visitors can see live or archived videos from the past 24 hours, post shots taken by the camera onto their own Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, and email HD images to others. The EarthCam’s website page also provides current real-time weather information and Google map integration.
The 75th anniversary will also be showcased at the “A Special Evening with Texas History” benefit on November 6, 2014. Annually held in November, the San Jacinto Museum of History Association selects one person or group to receive the San Jacinto Star Award, the highest honor given by the museum to those who have demonstrated an acute awareness and respect for the heritage and history ofTexas and Texans. This year the award will go to Dow Chemical Company; past award recipients include former U.S. President George H. W. Bush,U.S. Senators and historians.
Up to a million people, including 20,000 to 40,000 school children, visit the 1,200-acre San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, making it the most visited historic park in Texas. The site, which is a national Historic Landmark, consists of the monument, San Jacinto battleground, the San Jacinto Museum of History, park amenities and the Battleship Texas.
Created in 1939 to coincide with the opening of the San Jacinto Monument, the San Jacinto Museum of History Association is a non-profit organization that manages and operates all aspects of the San Jacinto Museum and its library. Proceeds from all events and amenities benefit the San Jacinto Museum of History's educational, research, observation, exhibit and outreach programs. The San Jacinto Museum and Monument offers many amenities and a variety of special events and activities throughout the year, all geared to make Texas history come alive.
Tickets and Hours:
Combo tickets for the Texas Forever!! The Battle of San Jacinto multimedia presentation, the elevator ride to the Observation Level, and the special exhibit (presently Making a Mark, Leaving a Legacy) are available. Seniors, children and groups of 10 or more enjoy a discounted rate year-round. All military personnel, including National Guard and Reserve and their families, receive free admission. San Jacinto Museum of History Association members also receive free admission. All amenities and attractions of the San Jacinto Battleground Historic Site (excluding the library) are open seven days a week, every day of the year except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The park grounds, the Monument, and its exhibits are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; the elevator and observation deck are open 9 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.; presentations run in the theatre on the hour beginning at 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and the Battleship Texas is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Albert and Ethel Herzstein Library is open by appointment on Fridays and some Saturdays. NOTE: The Jesse H. Jones Theatre will be closed from September 2 to September 30, 2014.
More on the Museum:
The San Jacinto Museum of History is operated by the San Jacinto Museum of History Association—a non-profit organization—in association with the Texas State Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). The Museum of History owns and curates the collections of artifacts and documents housed in the monument and staffs the movie, library, exhibition spaces and elevator ride to the observation floor.
Attractions and events run by the Museum include the special and permanent museum exhibits; the famous 489-foot elevator ride to the top of the Monument; the digital presentation Texas Forever!! The Battle of San Jacinto; the annual “San Jacinto Texas Independence Fun Run/Walk” on a 1K, 5K, 10K-certified course on the monument grounds; and the annual day-long San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Reenactment which is held the Saturday closest to the state holiday of San Jacinto Day on April 21 (April 18, 2015; April 23, 2016; April 22, 2017; April 21, 2018; and April 27, 2019).
Anyone can play a role in preserving Texas’s illustrious history by becoming a member of the San Jacinto Museum of History Association. Members take pride in preserving and promoting an important part of this nation’s heritage and providing new generations of Americans a better understanding of the past. Membership supports the operating expenses of the museum and library, the ongoing development of exhibits and collections, and efforts to build a larger home to properly house and display these collections. Membership levels accommodate every budget and come with varying rewards. Visit the website at http://www.sanjacinto-museum.org/Support_Us/Membership to sign up for different membership levels.
Jeanne Albrecht, PR Coordinator
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