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As state evolves, so should Institute of Texan Cultures

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The ITC is a unique and irreplaceable treasure that deserves a well-conceived roadmap for the future. (MORE)

As state evolves, so should Institute of Texan Cultures  | UTSA Institute Of Texan Cultures

FEBRUARY 12, 2021 — The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, or ITC, is a cherished resource. It has the only museum of its kind devoted entirely to preserving and sharing the rich cultural history of Texas and Texans.

The institute began its important work at the 1968 World’s Fair, where it opened as the Texas State Exhibits Pavilion to showcase the uniqueness and beauty of the state’s many cultures. The ITC also shared its pioneering research at the fair about the influence of Tejano and Mexican heritage in our region.

Over time the ITC developed unique programs, created learning and research opportunities, hosted vibrant cultural festivals and amassed one-of-a-kind archives exploring more than two dozen Texan cultures. These distinctive experiences are encouraging greater awareness of and appreciation for the state’s cultural diversification.

We are especially appreciative of the many staff members, patrons, supporters and volunteers who have contributed to the growth of the ITC and its museum over the years. Their groundwork has served the ITC and our community well, and we look forward to the institute’s next 50 years.

That’s why we’re launching ITC Centennial 2068: Community Stakeholder Visioning, a broad engagement process to shape the ITC’s future. We value the ITC’s mission, and this initiative will help develop a long-term, feasible and sustainable plan.

We invite Texans—and particularly San Antonians—to participate in this collaborative process. We are especially interested in collecting thoughts around the ITC’s mission and scope, engagement with the university, community engagement and sustaining support, museum facility and location, connection to Hemisfair Park and land use, and K–12 engagement.

To prepare for new growth, we have begun to align the ITC’s operations more closely with UTSA’s academic enterprise.

We hope for an institute that will play a greater role in academic programs and faculty efforts, K–12 student education and teacher preparation, and experiential learning programs that prepare students for their careers and future. These efforts will be vital to supporting a Downtown Campus life while creating space that is accessible to locals and tourists.

The ITC is well-positioned to elevate discourse and visibility around the historical advocacy and equity efforts of Mexican Americans, building on its seminal work for Hemisfair ’68 and the initiatives taking place at the university.

To contribute meaningful solutions to the challenges around racial and social injustice, we are compelled to lead cultural discourse that moves the needle toward equity.

We also believe the ITC could have a new role in documenting and examining our cultural history as it occurs through evolving population trends over the next 50 years.

Each year, more and more people move to Texas to take advantage of its economic opportunities. Imagine if the institute captured this unfolding history to examine the state’s growing cultural composition and identity. The ITC’s special collections could be first-choice resources for the state and nation.

There are opportunities to host new educational series at the ITC to help people learn from social and cultural injustices and about differing cultural perspectives. This important programming can encourage new thinking about our future as Texans.

We also want to develop an accessible and compelling in-person museum experience by creating deeper, broader cultural connections, particularly through the use of technology. Today’s young people often first come into contact with cultural material online. To sustain the ITC into 2068, we need to embrace this modality to attract new audiences to the ITC and its museum.

Above all, the institute’s tremendous assets must be preserved and made accessible to people in every corner of the state for the benefit and enjoyment of generations to come.

UTSA and San Antonio have a special relationship. Supporting the vibrancy of downtown is part of our DNA, and we believe we can find creative solutions at our Hemisfair Park location to support the ITC and downtown San Antonio. Building innovative partnerships will be essential in determining how to best steward the land for the benefit of the community. In turn, these solutions will help us achieve resource generation and sustainability.

San Antonio is a great city with a great public research university. It deserves a great cultural museum.

The ITC is likewise a unique and irreplaceable treasure that deserves a well-conceived roadmap for the future.

UTSA is committed to championing the ITC for the next 50 years. We invite you to join us in this important work.

— Kimberly Andrews Espy and Veronica Garcia Rodriguez

Kimberly Andrews Espy is provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at UTSA. Veronica Garcia Rodriguez is interim head curator of the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures.
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