3rd Floor (Opportunity)

Creating Opportunity

3rd Floor Astronaut
Courtesy of NASA

Texas is a hard land, vast and diverse, that people for centuries have seen as a place of possibilities. Land is at the heart of all we do, and our future lies on its horizon.

The third floor of the exhibits opens with a chapter on the legacy of Texas ranching. See where Longhorn cattle came from, how barbed wire changed Texas, and more. Then, step into the recreated Texas Theater to watch "Reel Hollywood Cowboys" to see clips from rare and blockbuster portrayals of the cowboy way of life.

The vastness and diversity of the Texas landscape have changed the rules for living here. Explore the different geographic regions of the state and the wide range of challenges they presented: how to work the land, how to find and manage water, how to move products to market, and how to deal with extremes of Texas weather. From Japanese rice farmers on the Gulf Coast to sharecroppers in the Hill Country to citrus kings on the Rio Grande Plain, Texans have invested sweat and courage in the land and they all share stories of vision and risk taking.

The discovery of oil at Spindletop in 1901 changed Texas like no other industry. Texans invented tools and techniques to meet the new challenges of the oilfields. Check out an electronic seismic recording systems from 1925 and learn how they knew where to drill. Then, explore how oil prosperity brought opportunities to everyday Texans — opportunities like leisure time for sports, shopping in new "department" stores like Dallas-born Neiman Marcus, and entertainment in the changing urban state.

3rdfloor-bobThe latter half of the 20th century saw Texas become a major international force in economics, politics, and technology. Texas was the place to locate key military bases and defense-related industries during World War II. Walk around a full-size 1941 AT-6A airplane; known as the "Texan", it was one of the most important aircraft trainers of all time. Explore milestones in technology, medicine, and space exploration in the 1940s-70s through rotating artifacts such as the first microchip and a real NASA console from the Manned Flight Center.

The final chapter of the exhibits is Connecting Texas. Take a seat in the Texas and Pacific Depot Theater and see how the state's infrastructure and communications, railroads, airways, and ports have shaped its history. And take an in-depth look at some of the state's great cities in a fun, interactive multimedia presentation. The story ends in a celebration of the diversity of modern Texas.