Museum opens Friday

Multi-million-dollar facility celebrates local history

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From the outside looking in, it looks like an old log cabin. But from the inside, the new San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site Museum is massive, ornate and rich with local history.

The 10,000-square-foot, $12.5 million facility officially opens its doors to the public at 1:30 p.m. Friday. Officials say they expect up to 500 people to attend the event at 220 Second St. in San Felipe.

“This is a very space-efficient building,” said Bryan McAuley site manager for the San Felipe de Austin and Fannin Battleground state historic sites, who led media tours last week even though contractors are still putting on the finishing touches.

The building includes gallery space, a learning area, meeting room, gift shop and extensive technologically-interactive exhibits. The facility is intended to educate, but probably will only host school groups about 100 days out of the year, McAuley said. He wants to initiate a program so that local residents don’t have to pay full fare to visit the museum. The building will appeal to Texans, history buffs, local residents and descendants of some of the historic figures.

The public is invited to a grand opening ceremony Friday, April 27, at 1:30 p.m. at which they will be able to tour the facility.

Although a capital campaign is underway, the facility is paid for, McAuley explained.

“It’s paid for on paper,” he said. “Some of that we’ll have to wiggle through because it’s pledged over a period of time.”

The building features typical museum features, such as video and historic archives with placards explaining what each piece is, but it also has interactive items that allow users to, for example, make decisions about whether to go to battle against General Santa Anna by hitting a touch-screen tablet in the museum’s “war room.”

Although guided tours will be available, visitors will not be “held hostage” and are free to roam around the facility, McAuley said.

Exhibits feature archaeological items, murals and more. For more information, visit http://www.thc.texas.gov/historic-sites/san-felipe-de-austin-state-historic-site.

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