BANDERA, Texas – Bandera, known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” has a new claim to fame.
The Bandera Museum of Natural History is now home to one of the nation’s finest collections of New Spain art, permanently housed in a new hall adjacent to the museum.
Juan Carlos Infante, a Mexican industrialist and the museum’s founder and chairman emeritus, and his wife Maria said they spent decades searching throughout Mexico, buying the paintings, sculptures, silver, furniture, and more, that make up the 153-piece collection.
“I dare to say, it’s maybe the most complete New Spain collection in the United States,” Infante said.
Some would question that he said, “but this is a magnificent, very unique collection.”
Infante said it began with pieces collected by his wife’s family.
“We love this kind of art. I have loved it since I was a kid,” Maria Infante said. “I never imagined that this was going to be my life.”
Her husband said their collection reflects almost all of the art disciplines being used at the time, as well as Spanish, European, Asian and indigenous influences.
“After decades of being considered reproductions of European artists, the New Spain artists are now recognized for their distinctive work. The collection is the heritage of Hispanics in the Americas,” said Maggie Schumacher, the museum’s managing director.
Juan Carlos Infante pointed out that, unlike other European countries, Spain brought its art to the New World.
After the Hernan Cortez defeated the Aztecs in 1521, he said, “this one big piece of land” was known as New Spain.
Juan Carlos Infante said much of Texas, including where Bandera is now, was part of New Spain.
Infante said that was one reason why he and his wife chose Bandera for their collection, along with the fact “The Cowboy Capital of Texas” attracts a lot of tourists. He said they’ve also lived in the area for the past 40 years, in addition to the home they owned in Mexico City.
Schumacher said when she learned about the collection, she was excited to show the area’s history.
“I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to show the people in this area their heritage,” she said.