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Witte Museum Opens Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg South Texas Heritage Center

Texas Business reports: SAN ANTONIO—The Witte Museum plans to open the Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg South Texas Heritage Center, Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 26, 2012.

 The museum explores the birthplace of ranching empires that continue today from which emerged the American Cowboy from his Vaquero forbearers.

This 20,000 square-foot, two-storybuilding that incorporates the historic Pioneer Hall, serves as a permanent home for the Witte’s South Texas collections, exhibitions and public programs, combined with updated museum technology, to trace the legendary history of South Texas.

The Witte’s South Texas collections include saddles, spurs, basketry, branding irons, historical clothing, land grants, art and firearms. The South Texas Heritage Center provides immersive experiences of real-life stories of the  men, women and children of South Texas.

It features the traveling narratives of Tejano Freighters and the historical narratives of Chili Queens, merchants, Texas Indians, Spanish settlers, trail drivers, ranchers and farmers.

The main galleries of the new center include exhibits on ranching, farming, San Antonio’s

Main Plaza in the 1840s, the oil and gas industry, horse culture, life along the border and a gallery dedicated to the Witte’s seminal 19th and 20th century early Texas Art collection.  

In addition, the Witte’s 2006 exhibition, A Wild & Vivid Land:  Stories of South Texas, which attracted more than 100,000 visitors, has been enhanced and now takes its home in the South Texas Heritage Center. A Wild & Vivid Land revealed the relevance and real-life stories of  South Texans in a new and compelling way—and proved that present-day visitors want to understand the past.

“Most people don’t know where they came from,” said Mary West Traylor, South Texas rancher and Witte supporter in a statement.  “And if you don’t know where you came from, I don’t know how you can set a course for where you’re going to go…It’s an important thing the Witte is doing to preserve the heritage of the families that developed and pioneered in South Texas.”

Other highlights of the South Texas Heritage Center include a grand two-story entry hall; classroom space for educational programs for students; an outdoor amphitheater and sculptures.