The Witte Museum

During a visit to San Antonio, since we couldn’t play golf due to the weather and needed to get out of the camper, we decided to visit the Witte Museum and the South Texas Heritage Center. We’re glad we did.

The Witte Museum has something for everyone from 5 to 95. The South Texas Heritage Center, which is included in the price of admission, is alive with the wild and vivid stories of South Texas.

Introduction to the Witte Museum

Established in 1926, The Witte Museum sits on the banks of the San Antonio River. It 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. Additionally, you’ll find a few nationally acclaimed traveling exhibits.

The Witte Museum is well known for excellent traveling displays. You want to plan your trip to the museum based on the current exhibit. For example, during our visit, “Mummies of the World” was the featured exhibit. It showcases the world’s largest collection of real mummies and related artifacts. The ancient mummies and important artifacts are from Asia, Oceania, South America, Europe, and ancient Egypt, dating as far back as 6,500 years.

The Witte Museum Permanent Exhibits

In addition to the traveling exhibits, the Witte Museum has two permanent exhibits. When we visited, there were 5 other exhibits on display:

The Witte Museum 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 hundreds of years ago
  • Current Exhibits:
    • “Texas Performers Under the Big Top” includes the oldest public collection of circus material in the world
    • Threads of South America: “2000 Years of Textiles” provides 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 celebrates the Witte’s 85 years by exploring historic photographs
    • “Artists on the Texas Frontier” is an interesting display of work of more than 20 Texas artists that lived and worked in 19th century Texas
The Witte Museum
The Witte Museum
The Witte Museum

Other Exhibits at the Museum

Outside of the main building, the well-landscaped grounds features sculptures along the bank of the San Antonio River. Some of what you’ll find on the grounds include:

  • Will Smith Amphitheater facing the river
  • Jessica and Henry Catto Memorial Garden
  • A couple of log cabins
  • Navarro House
  • HEB Body Adventure Garden
  • Water Works
  • HEB Science Tree House and Little Treehouse
hands-on science exhibits at The Witte Museum

Kids of all ages, and lots of adults, will love the HEB Science Tree House, which consists of 4 stories and 15,000 square feet of exhibits for all ages. 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:

  • Sit 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

The South Texas Heritage Center is a two-story 20,000-square-foot building that 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 artifacts, 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 about food traveling through the body and how the body is nourished.

The South Texas Heritage Center also had 3 demonstrations on the day we visited: one with a couple of cowboys sitting around a campfire swapping stories about cowboy values, traditions, and cultures; another on chuck-wagon cuisine; and the third was a 20-minute demonstration on how cowboys and vaqueros used ropes and branding irons.

Have a fun visit at The Witte Museum.

Mike Sharp
Author: Mike Sharp

I have a passion for travel and outdoor activities, and now I'm enjoying retired life. I will continue my traveling, golfing, boating, and enjoying life all across the great state of Texas.

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