The Witte Museum
If you’ve ever visited San Antonio’s Witte Museum, you probably think you know everything about this bastion of South Texas heritage, natural history, and science. Yet you’re in for a few surprises. While the museum is still located next to Brackenridge Park on the banks of the San Antonio River, much has changed. The “New Witte” features new galleries, labs, events, and activities, making what was already one of the best museums in San Antonio into one of the best in the country.
In addition to its special displays, nearly a dozen fascinating exhibit areas make up the permanent installations here. Witte Museum exhibits include:
- Kittie West Nelson Ferguson People of the Pecos Gallery - Spanning the entire second floor, the gallery recreates the lives of the earliest Texans: prehistoric hunter-gatherers. Explore their shelters in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands, admire 4,000 years of cave art, and dive into interactive activities in the gallery’s two labs.
- Naylor Family Dinosaur Gallery - Inside the museum’s first permanent dinosaur gallery, visitors can encounter those enormous land and sea creatures from eons past, including a full-size T-Rex from West Texas’ own river valleys. Young paleontologists can excavate bones and study the link between dinosaurs and modern-day birds in the Dinosaur Lab.
- H-E-B Body Adventure - A partnership with the University Health System, the Body Lab encourages healthy lifestyles by taking you through four stories of interactive games, challenges, and activities. The fun includes running across a motion-capture screen, live cooking demonstrations, cycling through beautiful San Antonio (virtual) scenery, and live performances by professional actors.
- McLean Family Texas Wild Gallery - Witte’s beloved dioramas are housed here, representing every ecological zone of the Lone Star State in stunning detail.
There are even more wonders to behold in the Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg South Texas Heritage Center, a 20,000-square-foot, two-story repository of the Witte’s many incredible artifacts and pieces. Among these are the longest digitally printed photograph in the world at the A Wild and Vivid Land: Stories of South Texas exhibit, the Trail Drivers Monument by famed Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum, and a re-created general store from San Antonio’s storied Main Plaza, once the biggest commercial hub in Texas. Through these and other displays, the Center brings to life the cowboys, freighters, chili queens, Native Americans, oilmen, and others who lived in these parts over the last century and a half.
The Witte Museum keeps things fresh by offering a host of programs and special events. See demonstrations and performances in the Will Smith Amphitheater, the Gallery Theater, and the H-E-B Body Adventure. Come to the museum for its public programs like Family Days, a lecture series that welcomes experts in science, natural history, and South Texas history, and the Summer Adventure Camps for kids. Once a month during the cooler times of the year, the museum hosts Sunday Jazz, a relaxing afternoon of music, food, and drinks in the open air of the amphitheater. Salud! Culinary Nights turn the H-E-B Body Adventure into the perfect date night spot for cooking classes from top chefs and wine and beer tastings.
Along with being a showcase for the culture and peoples of the Lone Star State, the Witte Museum is a private event venue popular for weddings, birthday parties, corporate events, and other gatherings for crowds 10 to 1,500 strong. The lovely grounds include a native plant garden, oak-tree-lined courtyard, two auditoriums, and several historic buildings from as far back as the Spanish Colonial period. The latter prove that while the “New Witte” is a sight to behold, it’s the old reminders of yesteryear that make the museum truly special.