Texans can now explore 16,000 years of Texas history in the new “Becoming Texas: Our Story Begins Here” exhibition at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. The hands-on, immersive display includes artifacts and documents from the rise and fall of the nations that inhabited the land that eventually became Texas, and continues through Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1821.
Museum Director Margaret Koch says this exhibition has been in the making for over a decade.
“It all started with the finding of La Belle in Matagorda Bay, which is a 300-year-old French shipwreck that the Texas Historical Commission raised from the silt, but that’s only one piece of the story,” Koch says. “We really wanted to show how long human habitation has been in Texas.”
Scientists used to think the first Americans came from Asia 13,000 years ago, but a new discover forty miles north of Austin suggested otherwise.
“There was an incredible archeological discovery that included some projectile points, some little arrow heads if you will. So, we start the story of Texas right there, 16,000 years ago,” exhibition curator Frank Cordes says.
These artifacts mark the beginning of the journey through the exhibit. Spread throughout the first-floor gallery are multiple tactile and interactive experiences, such as a strength test to see if visitors could take down a bison just like some Native Americans used to have to do.
“We also have a Hello Wall where there are different ways to say ‘hello’ in some of the native languages from the area,” Cordes says. “The tribes and nations that were here in pre-1821 Texas are all represented.”
The exhibit also chronicles the arrival of the French and the Spanish, and finishes the colonial period with Mexican independence.
“Even through these 16,000 years of history, people are people,” Koch says. “They’ve raised families, they’ve built communities, they’ve been at war with one another, they’ve forged alliances. So, the remnants of all that humanness is what we’re still leaving for people in the future, along with a lot of electronics.”
Written by Brooke Vincent.