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ITC team setting the stage for new exhibits and programs

Hard at Work

ITC team setting the stage for new exhibits and programs  | UTSA Institute Of Texan Cultures

By James Benavides, Senior Communications Specialist

The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures continues work behind the scenes to create new content and enrich the guest experience. The Institute expects to complete three projects within the next few weeks.


Podcasts on Texas History Coming Soon

John Phillip Santos

John Phillip Santos

At the onset of the spring 2022 semester museum educators began a collaboration with UTSA Distinguished Scholar in Mestizo Cultural Studies, John Phillip Santos, and his honors students, to create “Becoming Texas,” a podcast based on an essay Santos wrote, of the same name, in 2020. The podcast aims to broaden the Texas narrative about the history of Mexican Americans, African Americans, American Indians in Texas, and Mystical origins.

To add depth to episode one’s discussion on the Mexican American experience in Texas, Santos and the ITC staff and interns interviewed personalities from inside and outside the academic sphere, including UTSA Associate Professor of history, Omar Valerio Jimenez; and Juan Tejeda, co-founder of the Tejano Conjunto Festival at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Theater. Additional voices on the subject came from historians, writers, filmmakers, and students attending UTSA’s Democratizing Radical Justice event.

Santos based his spring honors seminar class on the essay, giving his students the impetus to challenge the Anglicized history of Texas perpetuated through textbooks, media, and folklore. Their voices will be highlighted within the context of episode one’s larger discussion.

The institute will announce the podcast coming online via social media channels.


Advanced Learning Academy Oral History Project

Another project the Institute’s educators undertook at the start of 2022 was an oral history project with high-schoolers at Advanced Learning Academy. Black American Studies teacher Zach Wilson worked with five of his students to document their parents’ own experiences growing up Black in San Antonio.

The conversations included thoughts on civil rights, gentrification and being bi-racial. They began the project documenting life in their own neighborhoods, including the King William and Lavaca areas, Castle Hills, Balcones Heights, and Dignowity Hill. Questions will call for family members to discuss how their neighborhoods evolve, and how their mixed-race heritage has shaped social experiences, including school and college life.

The institute’s team recorded half of the student interviews between mid-April and mid-May, and will record the next half the week of May 23. After review and editing, the institute will install screens and directional speakers in the African American Texans area, to show three-minute clips from these conversations. The institute will make the full-length conversations available online.


American Indian Exhibit

American Indian Exhibit Map
Over the years, one of the ITC’s most popular exhibits has been the American Indian exhibit. Currently, the exhibit team is expanding it with additional gallery space.

With the help of local group, American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions, the new content will include additional communities such as the Mission Indians, and a new look at the “Urban Indian” living in today’s Texas.

While the exhibit is unavailable, the Karankawa canoe, which stands separately from the exhibit, has received a new enclosure, better preserving the delicate item and providing some additional space for demonstration items. Docents have used the upgraded canoe installation to present on various American Indian cultures and ways of life. As construction continues, the canoe will move into the main American Indian gallery, incorporating the Gulf Coast Indians to the American Indian story.

The team will share updates as progress continues. Watch TexanCultures.utsa.edu and social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, @TexanCultures for more information.