Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Witte Museum

We visited the Witte Museum in San Antonio yesterday. Located off of Broadway near downtown, it was easy to get to from our digs at Fort Sam Houston. Admission was reasonable - $6/head because of our military status, but if you aren't military, it's only a dollar more. The museum was hosting a Dinosaur exhibit for which they were charging an additional $3 fee, but we decided to skip it since it seemed oriented towards younger children.

Nonetheless, the first room you enter as you pass into the Witte is dedicated to dinosaurs, including ordinarily a stegosaurus skeleton which had been shipped out to have adjustments made to it.

dinosaur measure

Only a few feet from the dinosaur entrance you encounter a room hung with paintings of 18th-19th century scenes of Texas culture - cattle drives, saloons, etc. The juxtaposition is characteristic of the eclectic nature of the Witte.

(That's N. doing her best gangsta imitation, yet another juxtaposition to add to the experience. We can provide her as a guide to the museum for a modest fee.)

Perhaps the highlight of the visit for the kids was the portion of the museum dedicated to science for children. There were interactive exhibits dedicated to electricity, sound, water, the weather, physics, and other topics.



This display explained the idea of levers and gears by letting the kids crush a penny and imprint it with "The Witte Museum."

crushing pennies

Everybody got a laugh out of this pipe instrument that you played by slapping the bottom of the flip-flop over the opening. N. promptly figured out how to play Fur Elise with her flip flop.

"Noise Waves" exhibit

Back inside the main museum there were natural history displays, some with live animals, talking about the natural environment of Texas and conservation. More paintings of romanticized "Old West" scenes, and then upstairs a remarkable collection of gowns used in the "Order of the Alamo" coronations - a pageant that is part of the annual San Antonio "Fiesta". These were truly stunning costumes with beautiful detail. My girls were fascinated by them, and I confess to enjoying trying to capture bokeh shots.

Gown Collection

Gown Collection

Gown Collection

The Witte was eclectic by any definition. We enjoyed it - even though the kids initially thought it would be too little for them. The science museum section would be really enjoyable for elementary school-aged children. I would have liked to have taken a little more time with the art. All said, it was worth a visit. I'm not sure we'll go back, unless they have a traveling exhibit that really catches our attention. I follow them on Facebook now, so I'll watch also for special events. It's a nice facility, well maintained and curated. Recommend it especially for families with younger children.

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