Museum of Coastal Bend attracts ag commissioner to new exhibit

April 7, 2011 at 8:03 p.m.
Updated April 6, 2011 at 11:07 p.m.

Ranching re-enactors perched by a tree outside the Museum of the Coastal Bend Thursday evening, offering an animated glimpse of the exhibit inside.

Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples delivered the keynote address at the museum's grand opening of its latest exhibit, Cattle Boom! Ranching in Victoria and the Coastal Bend, 1845-1929.

"Anybody here just a little proud to be a Texan?" he asked the crowd of dozens clad in cowboy boots and cowboy hats.

"I think it's the dream of everyone in the world to own a piece of Texas land," Staples said before his speech. "To capture the history and heritage the way that Victoria College has done, reminds us all of what it means to be a Texan."

The exhibit boasts photographs, written history and donated artifacts ranging from guns and windmills to spurs and stirrups.

"The entire legend of the cattle industry started here in the Coastal Bend," said Museum Director Sue Prudhomm. "We're excited to be able to showcase this unique and special heritage."

Around every dark-wooded corner were lively reminders of the region's contributions to the industry that still thrives today.

Roger and Gwen McDonald donated two saddles to the exhibit and said they were impressed by the depth and presentation of the display.

"It shows not only our back story but, also, the progress we've made," Roger said. "What's so funny about everything is that a lot of stuff you see is still being used today."

His wife said she noticed the same thing.

"I really enjoyed seeing the pictures. I see things that have changed, and I see things that haven't changed at all," she said.

Prudhomm said the exhibit is designed to engage the minds of both adults and kids. The "Touch Me" features with leather, fur and lassos offer the annual 1,400 students who visit the museum a tactile way to learn about history, she said.

"Our tours are designed to enhance what the teachers are teaching their students, so we help them meet the curriculum requirements for TAKS testing," she said.

Staples said he thinks knowing the history of Texas ranching is important to its future.

"We are stewards of what has been passed down to us, and we have a responsibility to pass that along to the next generation," he said.



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