The Institute of Texan Cultures, at Hemisfair Park downtown, is a unique museum that highlights the wide variety of cultures that have contributed to the history of Texas.
Did you know that Wendish people were a part of Texas history? Have you ever even heard of Wendish people? (It's a group from
The Institute of Texan Culture does a really nice job of introducing you to all the people groups who moved into Texas, and the effects they had on the culture here. It's not just Spanish influence- there were also French, Lebanese, Belgian, Dutch, Greek, Italian, Swiss, Japanese, Chinese, Polish, German, the aforementioned Wendish, Czech, Jewish, Hungarian, English, Irish and Scottis settlers! Everyone came to Texas! In addition to telling the stories of the immigrant groups, there's also an exhibit on the American Indians.
The Museum also was showing a fun Made In Texas exhibit when I visited. You get to learn about Texan inventions, fashion, art and food. Fun!
There were several school groups visiting when I was there, and museum staff were showing them things like old fashioned lye soap, and how to spin cotton and weave it.
Out back of the museum is the Back 40, which has a log house, barn, windmill, schoolhouse, fort and adobe house in the style of Texas in the 1800s.
Much of the museum requires reading, so very little ones may lose interest quickly, but it's fun for older children (I'd say 7 or 8 and up) and adults.
Disclosure: I was given free admission to this museum as part of a press trip. All opinions posted here are mine and mine alone.
Although the only interactive exhibits were the various homes you can walk through and a station where you can dress up as a cowboy, our kids liked this place. After watching the short film in the central rotunda, we set out to see the exhibits, each about a different cultural group that has made Texas its home. One son went alphabetically, following the groups as listed on the map, while the rest of us just wandered around.
It was interesting to see the variety of cultures in Texas, and there were lots of pictures at all of the exhibits.
There is also a tusk exhibit on display, and an aviation exhibit in the basement.
Staff were very helpful and friendly, and this wasn't a busy place, so it was easy to keep track of the kids.
Even the youngest liked the film, and we were there long enough to see it twice.