Aggieland is famous for its traditions, but Texas A&M isn’t the only source of history in College Station and the Brazos Valley. The Brazos Valley Museum Collective counts among its members museums with pieces that date back all the way to Early Cretaceous period more than 100 million years ago. At these six fascinating sites, the whole family will come away with a greater understanding and appreciation of where you come from as Texans, as Americans, and as people.
Built on the site of one of the first all-black schools in the Brazos Valley, this museum tells the story of the tragedies and triumphs of the African American community in Texas and the United States. Exhibits cover topics like civil rights and the role of African Americans in the Civil War, and the museum boasts an impressive display of African art and artifacts. It is the only museum of its kind in the region and an important contributor to the ongoing national conversation about race in modern America.
Marvel at thousands of priceless archeological, geological, and paleontological artifacts dating back millennia at the Museum of Natural History. Exhibits include Ice Age Mammals; live turtles, tarantulas, scorpions, and other small creatures inside the Discovery Room; and the skeletons of dinosaurs, a sabretooth cat, a cave bear, and more in the Frithiof Fossil Collection. The museum hosts a number of events throughout the year, including a lecture series and kids’ nature camps, and welcomes birthday parties and field trips.
One of the top attractions for kids in Bryan, the Children’s Museum mixes fun with learning in an interactive, hands-on environment. Youngsters can learn the finer points of commerce in the mock HEB Valley Grocery store, how to stay healthy in the Health and Fitness exhibit, and what it would be like to be an astronaut at the Spaceship and Control Center.
The presidential library of “41,” or 41st president George Bush, contains permanent and temporary exhibits and millions of documents related to his years in office, as well as broader U.S. history dating back to 1941. Highlights include a World War II Avenger Torpedo Bomber, a 1947 Studebaker, and a bronze sculpture depicting the fall of the Berlin Wall with actual pieces of the wall. A special section devoted to First Lady Barbara Bush focuses on her campaigns for literacy, AIDS awareness, and volunteerism.
U.S. military history comes alive at the Museum of the American G.I., where you can get an up-close look at restored combat vehicles and tanks, propaganda posters, uniforms, and other authentic artifacts. Browse dog tags bearing the names and ranks of more than 3,400 soldiers who died or are M.I.A. in the Vietnam War in the Texas Heroes Exhibit. The museum hosts Nights at the Museum, the WWII Tank Experience and other events for the public to get up close and personal with its historic collection. The museum’s annual “Living History Weekend” in late March is a popular time to witness original WWII vehicles in action during the annual WWII Battle Reenactment.
The only museum in Texas created by the Legislature to be a storehouse of information on the Texas Republic, Star of the Republic encompasses three historical sites at Washington on the Brazos. More than 1,000 items related to early Texas life and culture are on display in the museum, as well as a hands-on Pioneer Playroom for kids to experience life on the frontier. Another site is the Barrington Living History Farm, which was the home of the last president of the republic. Go on a self-guided tour of this re-created 1850’s cotton plantation staffed by historical reenactors with the goal of helping you understand what life was like in Texas more than 150 years ago. Finally, on a guided tour of the replica Independence Hall and Townsite, you will learn all about the politics that went into crafting the Republic of Texas.
Explore an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, and other works created by regional and Texas artists, as well as artifacts from around the world dating back to the 11th-century, at The Arts Center in College Station. The Arts Center, operated by the Arts Council of Brazos Valley, also features an art studio, conference room, and the Texas Gallery which hosts a rotating selection of exhibits. In the past, the Texas Gallery has hosted works from international artists such as Ansel Adams, Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Rembrandt.
Located on the campus of Texas A&M University, the Cushing Memorial Library is home to a stunning collection of rare books, manuscripts, and archives that span the breadth of history. More than 200,000 printed volumes and 250,000 photographs, as well as hundreds of original works of art and Sumerian clay tablets dating back to 2400 BCE reside within the library. In addition, the Cushing Memorial Library is the official repository of Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin’s works. Literature nerds and art fans will find plenty to read and see in the library, which is open to the public for reading and studying.
Visit the Forsyth Galleries to see a remarkable collection of late 19th- and 20th-century art glass and American paintings. The gallery’s permanent exhibit features one of the world’s leading collections of English cameo glass, as well as pieces that showcase the different types of glass, such as cameo, blown, and pressed. Paintings by celebrated American artists like Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, and Frederic Remington are on display in the gallery as well.
Experience Texas’ artistic side at the J. Wayne Stark Galleries. Western-themed paintings and sculptures, along with art from across the Americas, are on display in the gallery’s permanent collection. Its rotating exhibits include a diverse array of works reflecting a range of styles brought in from around the world. In the past, the gallery has showcased works from post-World War II impressionists, large-format photographers, and abstract painters.
The Corps of Cadets is a Texas A&M University institution that was established when the college was founded in 1876. Throughout its distinguished history, Corps of Cadets graduates have gone on to serve with distinction in the military. Explore all the history when you visit the Sanders Corps of Cadets Center, a museum and library that stores more than 3,000 volumes of military research. Check out the Medal of Honor exhibit that showcases Corps alumni who have received the award, as well as the Metzger-Sanders Gun Collection featuring rare and antique firearms from around the world.
There’s even more art to be seen when you visit The Reynolds Gallery, located on the second floor of Texas A&M’s Memorial Student Center. The gallery showcases a rotating selection of art brought in from around the country, as well as works produced by Texas A&M students. Public parking for the gallery is available in the University Center Parking Garage.
Visit any, or all, of these museums in College Station and the Brazos Valley and you’ll leave with a greater appreciation of Texas history and the people who made the Lone Star State into what it is today.
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