1st Floor (Land)

Encounters on the Land

1st floor

On the first floor the Story of Texas is one of people and their relationship to each other and the Land. It begins with the thousands of Native Peoples who lived here for at least 13,000 years before the arrival of Europeans. There were hundreds of different groups with a variety of languages, customs, and beliefs. Learn about the aboriginal inhabitants of Texas through a rotating showcase of artifacts including pottery, weapons, jewellery, and clothing dating back 4000 years.

When the Spaniards entered the Story of Texas in the 1500s, they found a land already inhabited. In the Caddo Theater you'll see and hear about the conflicts that arose between European and Native cultures as the different groups struggled to maintain or seize control over the territory.

Learn about culture of the Spanish mission and presidio system and the science, engineering, and cultural adaptations that made settlement on the tough landscape possible. In this area of the exhibits you'll also see one of the Museum's star artifacts — an original wooden gate attributed to Mission San Antonio de Valero, better known as the Alamo.

Then explore the every-day objects connected with the19th century lives of settlers and the roots of "Gone To Texas," the Westward expansion of new immigrants with new ideas who moved here with the idea of beginning a new life. Walk inside the breezeway of a typical dogtrot cabin to see how people lived on and off of the land. Then, watch and listen to the personal voices of contemporary Comanche as they speak of their heritage and thriving communities in the Comanche theatre. Continue your visit in the Fort area where the Buffalo Soldiers and the beginnings of the Texas Rangers unfold, and learn how the last unexplored region of Texas, the Big Bend area, was finally mapped. These are the roots of the Texas Identity.

Note: In preparation for our Fall 2014 special exhibit, artifacts from the17th century La Belle shipwreck found off Matagorda Bay, Texas are currently off view. Join us October 25, 2014 for the opening of La Belle: The Ship That Changed History in the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Hall of Special Exhibitions.