Ever since French explorer Robert de La Salle established a settlement along the central Texas coastline in 1685, the mid-coastal region of Texas has experienced a vibrant multicultural history. This colorful past comes to life at the Museum of the Coastal Bend in Victoria, where visitors can explore the region’s diverse cultural background, from the area’s original Native American inhabitants to the French, Spanish and English settlers who followed with great aspirations of New World expansion.
How the Museum Began and Its Mission
The Museum of the Coastal Bend began as a concept by Victoria College, which over the years worked with advisors and volunteers from the Victoria area to develop the museum. The mission of this new museum would be to educate the public while enhancing “the appreciation and enjoyment of the region’s heritage.” After creating a facility offering a comprehensive look of the Texas coastline’s rich traditions and natural resources, the Museum of the Coastal Bend, located on the Victoria College campus, opened to the public on October 11, 2003.
What the Museum Offers Victoria Residents
Fulfilling its purpose to “collect, preserve, exhibit, interpret and educate using the history and heritage of the region,” the Museum of the Coastal Bend offers a wide range of exhibits and educational programs the whole family can enjoy. Tour the facility with a museum volunteer, listen to an audio tour or discover any of the exhibits on your own.
Among the intriguing displays visitors will find in the museum are The La Salle Odyssey and Cattle Boom! exhibits, each vividly illustrating particular periods of time in Coastal Texas history. The La Salle Odyssey chronicles the story of the first European settlement in Texas, Fort St. Louis, and the archeological excavation of La Salle’s ship, La Belle, which sunk long ago in the waters of Matagorda Bay. Telling each part of La Salle’s story through a series of educational text panels and historical images, the museum displays a variety of fascinating relics relevant to the French explorer’s Texas expedition, including seven of the eight cannons he brought to the state during his travels. Cattle Boom! is an exhibit developed exclusively for the museum, and accounts stories of long cattle drives, ranching families and their cultures through artifacts, maps, historical documents and pictures.
Enthusiastic Volunteers Add to the Experience
While the exhibits tell captivating stories of the state’s past, Sue Prudhomme, director of the Museum of the Coastal Bend, emphasizes that the museum “is more than artifacts and scholarly words. It’s the people who help us to tell our story that makes our museum unique.”
These people are the enthusiastic museum volunteers who have had archeological adventures of their own.
“Bill Birmingham has been passionate about preserving our past for almost half a century,” Prudhomme says. “He’s worked on nearly every archeological survey and excavation in the county, and encourages others to follow his path of preservation and stewardship.” Volunteers Jud Austin and Jimmy Bluhm also preserved artifacts they discovered through their own persistence and determination to protect important pieces of Coastal Texas history.
Let the passion and enthusiasm of the staffers and volunteers enhance your visit to the Museum of the Coastal Bend. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Read about more historical sites in Victoria, TX.