With the holidays over, I was finally able to make it to Galveston’s Bryan Museum. One of the city’s newest historical attractions, the museum is located in the 1895 Galveston Orphans Home, an architectural masterpiece on its own. The structure has been lovingly restored as an impressive setting for the collection of Texas and American West artifacts, documents, and artwork assembled by historian and businessman J.P. Bryan and his wife Mary Jon.
On three floors of the museum, visitors will find rare maps, firearms, Native American stone tools, and my favorite—fine art that includes some of the state’s most brilliant talents (Frank Reaugh, Julius Stockfleth , José Arpa, Tom Lea, and Julius and Robert Onderdonk).
Another highlight for me was the San Jacinto Battlefield Diorama, representing all 18 minutes of that important battle. The model depicts the movement of the troops, the clash with the Mexican barricade, and the aftermath in Peggy’s Lake. Modern technology is incorporated as well, allowing visitors to learn more about the battle that secured the state’s independence from Mexico.
When I asked former curator Andrew Gustafson about his favorite aspect of the collection, he focused on the museum’s archive and library, calling it “an untapped resource.” Contained within, he noted, are historic documents, first edition books, rare maps, and Texas and American West-related reading material which have been underutilized by serious researchers. That is likely to change as Texans—and historians around the world—discover the beauty and breadth of The Bryan Museum.
—Gene Krane, THF Executive Director