UTSA asks for public’s input on future of Institute of Texan Cultures museum at Hemisfair Park

UTSA committee proposes three different scenarios for future of museum

SAN ANTONIO – The future of the Institute of Texan Cultures is up for discussion, and UTSA is asking the public to weigh in.

The museum is one of the most recognizable buildings in San Antonio that tells the history of Texas. It was established in 1968 during the World’s Fair and has stood in Hemisfair Park for over five decades.

“The Institute of Texan Cultures is really about sharing the rich mosaic and tapestry that comprises Texas, not only the current but also the future,” said Dr. Kimberly Andrews Espy, UTSA provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs.

Espy is the chair of the ITC Centennial 2068, the initiative created to guide the institute into the future.

“We have this incredible, thorough, community-driven, transparent process that has involved a wide swath of our community,” said Espy. “Folks who are experts in the cultural arts, who are business people who are committed to our downtown, got together and participated in our task forces.”

The committee presented three feasible scenarios after taking recommendations from the task forces around the museum.

“One involves relocating out of the Texas pavilion and away from the Hemisfair district,” said Espy. “One of them involves relocating out of the Texas pavilion but remaining in the Hemisfair district.”

The third option is a reimagined facility that would remain at its current location.

“The last is remaining in the Texas pavilion, including everything up to renovating or perhaps replacing the facility or using a distributed model where different elements of the ITC -- for example, its collections versus as exhibits -- would potentially be in different locations,” said Espy.

The steering committee also evaluated much-needed upgrades for the ITC to reach national standards developed by the American Association of Museums. Some of those upgrades include restrooms, accessibility and IT infrastructure.

“Those would be the guidelines we would use to think about when we undertake renovation of a different building or need to build new,” said Espy.

The next step is to get feedback from the community and conservation and preservation groups that will be presented to UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. Espy said that an online survey is available on UTSA’s website, and the process could take anywhere from two to four months.

The future of the ITC and the land it sits on has long been under debate. Espy said she understands there are varying opinions regarding the site and museum.

“We have no doubt that our community -- how people feel about this varies among individuals,” said Espy.

“That’s partly why we’ve gone about this process in a very thorough, publicly engaged, transparent way because we do want to invite all those perspectives,” said Espy. “It’s through that process of feedback that will help us evaluate what’s the best next step.”

About the Authors:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.