The Lone Star State is filled with things to be proud of. One of the factors that contributes significantly to Texas pride is the deep and rich history of the state. If you’re trying to convince your friends that Texas really is the best place in the world, the Bullock Texas State History Museum is for you.
Here are my top five reasons why the Bullock Texas State History Museum is worth experiencing:
1) It is beautiful. Right away, I noticed the giant lone star in its courtyard. The Lone Star symbol came about during the Texas Revolution in the mid-1830s, when Texas won its independence from Mexico. Today, it remains a manifestation of independence and the Texan fighting spirit.
Powerful without being ostentatious, the museum’s star says a lot about the Texas state of mind. I could not help but gawk at its elegance and size.
Behind the star is the larger-than-life museum. Massive stone pillars run from floor to ceiling, interspaced by crystal clear windows. I half-expected to find Zeus and his pantheon dining inside.
Upon further inspection, I learned that the museum is made from the same type of stone as the Texas State Capitol Building. It is called “sunset red” granite, and it is gives both buildings their peculiar reddish-pink tones.
2) The museum contains the only IMAX theater in Austin, the biggest in Texas. It centers around films about Texas history. However, there are films about dinosaurs, undersea life and other things as well. This IMAX theater also hosts mainstream movies like Avatar and Inception.
The film I watched instantly absorbed me. They were showing a 3-D film about tornado chasers. Every unfortunate dairy cow flew through the air and straight for the audience as tornadoes formed and touched down. We all left the theater with a deep respect for storm chasers and cinematic storytelling.
3) The exhibits start with prehistoric man and lead you up to the Apollo moon landing…literally. I started at the ground floor and walked clockwise until I reached the last exhibit on the third floor. Every step took me a little further through Texas history.
I marveled at the ingenious tools used by early hunter-gatherers before walking to the Native American area. I sat inside a teepee and watched a documentary about the relationship between Native Americans and European settlers. Next to the teepee was a homesteader’s shanty. Within it, people listened to the journals of American pioneers. Both the adults and children watched various parts of the cabin light up as each story was read aloud.
4) The museum is remarkably interactive. After a short staircase (there are elevators as well) it was 1883 and I sat in a Mexican prison cell with Stephen F. Austin. We broke out, but soon the Civil War was upon me. A house divided then rebuilt itself. Next came the fight for women’s suffrage, the Texas oil boom and the Great Depression. Suddenly war came from across the ocean.
Near the end of the exhibits sits a Fighting Corsair WWII plane, the Navy’s first 400 mph fighter plane. The trip ended with an astronaut sticking an American flag into the surface of the moon.
5) It is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. After the exhibits, I caught a bite to eat from the museum cafe. The Story of Texas Cafe offers everything from carne guisadas to catfish. They also serve lighter meals like soups and sandwiches. Luckily for the coffee nuts like myself, the cafe has multiple styles of coffee on hand. They even serve Texas brews!
The employees and volunteers genuinely love the museum. They are happy to chat and know a lot about the exhibits. The museum rouses a thousand different questions, and somebody is always available with an answer.
All things considered, the Bullock Texas State History Museum is one of my favorite Austin locations.
Have you been to the Texas State History Museum? Do you have a favorite exhibit?
Photos by John Rogers, cytosine, Jamie Campbell, and Srinath TV, respectively.