For the museum junkie, San Antonio thrives with world-renowned exhibitions, historical and upbeat images of Texas’ past and innovative new media, all showcasing local and international talent. Whether you want to drop in for some quick history or take the day to immerse your cultural side, San Antonio meets all the needs just fine.
Not all museums are housed in Spanish Colonial Revival estates, making McNay Art Museum easily one of the best small museums around—stunning architecture included. From September to January, Paris comes to the McNay with roughly 70 Impressionist paintings from celebrated names like Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh.
The San Antonio Museum of Art also looks to France, but stays closer to home with French video artist Sylvie Blocher’s “The Color of Confusion.” Blocher shot video in San Antonio and her work highlights the Alamo, ethnicity and color, and runs through December. Through March 2015, the museum highlights 15 tapestries commissioned by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, modeled after Pablo Picasso’s most important paintings and hand-woven in France by Madame J. de la Baume Dürrbach.
Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum puts forward a rotating exhibition schedule throughout the year, with Texas artist Catherine Lee’s “Emergence” on display through November.
The San Antonio Public Library whets art lovers’ appetites just steps from the River Walk, starting with the “Enchilada Red” colored building designed by architect Ricardo Legoretta. Inside the Blue Room by neon artist Stephen Antonakos, artists like Colombia’s Fernando Botero and glass-sculpture genius Dale Chihuly attract visitors.
French artists are also taking a lead outdoors, with North America’s oldest cathedral answering the Francophile call and offering a video art installation by a renowned Parisian artist. Xavier de Richemont is featuring his first outdoor video art installation in the United States, “San Antonio/The Saga.” A 7,000-square-foot projection with custom choreographed music in surround sound narrates the historical discovery, settlement and development of San Antonio and will be projected on the façade of the historic San Fernando Cathedral for the next 10 years.
Santa Ana’s sword and Pancho Villa’s saddle await at the Briscoe Western Art Museum with an emphasis on the Western art of San Antonio and the South Texas region—all Texas history, all the time.
The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum houses five museums in one, with a Hall of Texas History Wax Museum, Texas Ranger Museum and new special exhibit, “Carnival of Curiosities.”
For the Kids
The Witte Museum boasts South Texas history, culture and natural science with the kid-friendly H-E-B Science Body Adventure interactive exhibit. While there, introduce the young ones to a world of dinosaur bones, cave drawings and wildlife dioramas, and even take a peek at Davy Crockett's fiddle.
The DoSeum offers hands-on activities for children “ages zero to 10.”
Since animals and children go hand-in-hand, the recently added SeaWorld San Antonio Roa’s Aviary is a perfect fit. Discover 13,500 square feet of more than 50 tropical bird species to admire as you float, wade or walk the exhibit, which is open year-round.