Monday, September 26, 2011

Sept 23 - Annual Museum Day

Once again I'm a bit late with this news, but mark it on your calendars for next year!

GO San Angelelo: Free events Saturday mark National Museum Day
SAN ANGELO, Texas — This Saturday, a few local treasures will take a cue from Smithsonian museums' tradition of free admission by showcasing their own exhibits to patrons at no charge.Fort Concho National Historic Landmark, San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts and San Angelo Railway Museum are again participating in Smithsonian Magazine's annual Museum Day, held nationwide.

Activities at Fort Concho National Historic Landmark, 630 S. Oakes St., begin at 10 a.m. with an 1800s baseball game as well as two programs in the schoolhouse/chapel sponsored by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas: "Feisty Schoolmarms" by local historian and author Barbara Barton, and "One Room Schoolteachers of Texas" by Kathy Fritze, member of the DRT, Fort Concho Chapter.

Fort visitors also can view the exhibit "75th Anniversary of the Great San Angelo Flood of 1936,"a collection of oral histories, newspapers from '36, maps, a model of the city showing where the flood waters reached and photographs. The exhibit will be in Barracks 1 and will be shown through January.

"The photos are very interesting," said site manager Bob Bluthardt. "The town has changed a lot; buildings that are no longer around in downtown were in full flower in 1936. Just areas that people were familiar with, seeing them under 1, 2, 3 feet of water, it's a little upsetting."

More exhibits can be viewed downtown at the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, 1 Love St. "Zanne Hochberg: Gifts of Our Time" and "Gifts That Last Forever: Selections From the Museum's Collection" will be on display 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and will continue to be shown through Nov. 6.

Hochberg, now deceased, is known for introducing to Texas an art movement called abstract expressionism. The style, characterized by its bright colors and seemingly haphazard brush strokes, was prevalent on the East Coast in the 1950s but not popular in Texas prior to Hochberg's arrival. "Gifts of Our Time" includes works she created in the 1960s up to the '90s, said Karen Zimmerly, collections manager at SAMFA.

"Gifts That Last Forever" is from the museum's permanent collection and includes early Texas art and Mexican religious art such as retablos, altars and statues that collectors have donated to the museum over the past several years.

Located just blocks from SAMFA, the San Angelo Railway Museum on 703 S. Chadbourne St. also has a large collection of art, albeit in the medium of photography, said David Wood, the museum's president.

"We probably have the largest display of historical photos of any museum or any place in town," he said.

The museum is inside the Historic Orient-Santa Fe Depot and was built in 1909 as the headquarters for the Kansas City, Mexico, & Orient Railway, according to The Santa Fe Railroad bought the building in 1928 and operated there until 1985. Operating as a museum since 1997, the depot showcases model trains, artifacts and a caboose Wood said was built in 1956.

"The caboose has just been recently redone, so it's the best it's ever looked," Wood said. "Most people haven't been in it because it's been closed for most of the year."

The museum typically sees about 60 to 80 people on Saturdays, Wood said, but attendance during Museum Day usually increases those numbers about 50 percent.

"A lot of families come out, and it's so convenient with all the free museums (located) within two blocks of each other," he said. "People get out and go from one museum to another."

Wood said museums' participation in Museum Day is optional, but their involvement is an opportunity for self-promotion.

"We take advantage of all the national publicity being put out, and since our sister museums in town do it, too, we've been doing it ever since they started promoting it," Wood said. "We complement each other."

"This is about the only day a year that we're all kind of in a combo situation" because of the museums' different schedules, Bluthardt added. "This is the one day we all say, 'Hey, come and see what we've got.' And for a city this size, having (this many) quality museums is a pretty good thing."

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