- Written by Heather Wagner
- Published May. 31, 2016
Situated on a shady stretch of San Antonio’s inviting River Walk is one of the city’s newest cultural attractions, the Briscoe Western Art Museum. Since opening in October of 2014, this attrctive and very visitor-friendly collection (comfortably and attractively housed in the fully modernized and beautifully restored original San Antonio Public Library building) has been drawing rave reviews from all those with a love of, and interest in the American West’s exciting and inspirational pioneering past. With more than 700 exceptional, singular and extremely pertinent works of art and artifacts permanently on display, the region’s rough and tumble history is thrillingly recalled in multiple, must-see galleries each dedicated to celebrating this storied territory’s very unique, compelling and robust frontier heritage. Yee ha!
Initially envisioned in 2003 by a like-minded group of dedicated art patrons, collectors, businessmen and women, historians, ranchers and others, all sharing a deep passion for the actual occurrences (and legends) of the renowned yesteryear that was the “Old West,” the substantial project was finally, and magnificently, brought to fruition ten years later thanks to the additional hard work of countless volunteers and professionals as well as lots of generous private, city and state financial assistance. And, to the thousands who have experienced the glorious result since its recent opening, all agree it was definitely time, effort and money well spent.
Today, visitors to the Briscoe Museum (named after early supporter and former Texas governor Dolph Briscoe) rapidly become immersed in another era where life was lived on horseback and defended with bow and arrow, six-shooters and Winchester rifles. The story is vividly told through myriad works of fine art, precise recreations and actual memorabilia, all relating to this adventurous age. Everything is artfully displayed throughout nine galleries occupying three spacious floors. Beautifully rendered paintings and sculptures wonderfully recount these earlier times while massive displays of period firearms pay testament to the dangers inherent. Other intriguing Spanish, Mexican, Anglo and American-Indian artifacts (many, centuries old) beckon the visitor as well. All in all, it’s an amazing compellation that features such rarities as an actual cannon used at the Battle of the Alamo, revolutionary leader Pancho Villa’s saddle, General Santa Anna’s sword, a full-sized Wells Fargo stage coach, historical documents and many, many other invaluable, one-of-a-kind relics. Add in the well-stocked visitor shop and, with so much to see (and hear via related recordings), many guests plan on spending several enlightening, educational and, especially, enjoyable hours on the premises. So saddle on up and come on down cowpokes, because no one leaves disappointed – young or old!
Beginning on January 5 and running through the 29th, the museum will be hosting a very special San Antonio Rodeo Student Western Art Exhibition and Auction. Featuring the exceptional work of some of Texas’ most accomplished high school artists, the exhibit culminates in a heated sale when all of the entries will be put up for bid. Proceeds will be awarded as scholarships for college and higher education. A general admission ticket to the museum will allow visitors to view the creations throughout January. The public is invited to attend and participate in the auction on the 29th. For additional information visit: sarodeo.com.
And, in celebration of this year’s Valentine’s Day, from February 2 through February 11, the museum will again invite the romantic-at-heart to create personal “love letters” (either handwritten or typed on a vintage typewriter) that, within downtown San Antonio, will be hand delivered to their special recipients via “Pony Express” – AKA volunteers on “thoroughbred” bicycles. Letters destined for locations beyond two-wheeling distance will be mailed.
The Briscoe Western Art Museum is located at 210 W. Market Street in downtown San Antonio. It is open Tuesday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. It is closed on Monday. Admission is $10.00 for adults, $8.00 for seniors and retired military and free for children 12 and younger. For additional information about the museum, including directions, to make a donation, monitor upcoming events and to visually sample some of the collection, please visit the Web site at: briscoemuseum.org.