As we gear up for the busy season ahead, we want to share a few of the many highlights from our traveling exhibition program in 2019. Last year, communities all across Texas and the United States brought Humanities Texas traveling exhibitions into their schools, libraries, and museums—as the main attraction or as a piece of a larger program. We're proud to be a resource for cultural and educational institutions alike and in the coming year will continue our work of providing high-quality, affordable exhibitions to venues throughout the state and nation.
One of our most popular offerings is Vaquero: Genesis of the Texas Cowboy, an exhibition of photographs by Bill Wittliff taken during his visit to a ranch in northern Mexico where the vaqueros still worked cattle in traditional ways. Paired with bilingual narrative text, the images reveal the muscle, sweat, and drama required to rope a calf in thick brush or break a wild horse in the saddle.
In 2019, Vaquero was displayed at a total of six Texas venues, including the Museum of the Southwest in Midland (October 25, 2019–January 17, 2020). While the exhibition was on display, the museum also partnered with the Hispanic Cultural Center of Midland to celebrate Día de los Muertos, a program with over 1,800 visitors. Children performed at the event, school groups set up altars to remember departed loved ones, and guests toured the Vaquero exhibition.
While the exhibition was on display in Midland, Daniel Eck, executive director of the Museum of the Southwest, reported, "We're thrilled to have this exhibition here. A twelve-year-old boy and his mom visited the museum—the boy said he is going to be a photographer when he grows up, and he had his digital camera with him taking pictures all over the museum. I walked him into the Vaquero exhibition, and we looked at the photographs together, talking about the action scenes Wittliff was able to capture. The boy was telling me all about the horses and what the vaqueros were doing in the pictures and was talking about taking pictures of horses the next time he goes to a ranch where one of his relatives works. (He had some knowledge!) That was the best part of my week."
Humanities Texas was pleased to introduce a new exhibition in 2019—Unsinkable: Voices from the Storm. Created by the Bullock Texas State History Museum and based on the October 2017 Texas Monthly cover story, "Voices from the Storm," the exhibition shares the stories of sixteen individuals who survived, witnessed, and assisted others during the five days of historically torrential rain that Hurricane Harvey brought to the Gulf Coast. The traveling version of Unsinkable debuted at the Johnson City Library, where it was on display from July 8–August 19, 2019.
The library hosted an opening reception on July 12, 2019, featuring a readers' theater piece based on the Texas Monthly article. Each reader portrayed one of the hurricane survivors. Maggie Goodman, director of the Johnson City Library, said, "The audience was with each character as the storm and their stories progressed. Afterwards they understood more about how those people felt, how their lives were changed forever. Every person there thanked us for the experience and for how well the play was done." The library also hosted a panel discussion on July 30, 2019, with a weatherman from Rockport who experienced the storm, highlighting the program's goals to "Remember, Acknowledge, and Educate."
Regarding the library's experience hosting Unsinkable, Goodman noted, "There were many major accomplishments with this exhibit. It was a daily honor to be in the presence of such quality photographs and narratives of people who had been through and helped during this inimitable storm. People who viewed the exhibit were always moved."
In February 2019, the Harrington Library in Plano celebrated African American History Month with the traveling display Black Art—Ancestral Legacy: The African Impulse in African American Art. This exhibition provides examples from twentieth-century African American artists—both trained and untrained—who visually respond to the questions posed by poet Countee Cullen in 1926: "What is Africa to me?"
The library provided additional programming with Boitumelo: The History of Jazz, an interactive live performance from Rochelle Rabouin and Stewart Shelton at which visitors learned the history of jazz, how to scat, and how to construct a jazz collage. Over the span of twenty-nine days, the library attracted 17,517 visitors who participated in the program and viewed the exhibition.
Last summer, the East Texas Oil Museum in Kilgore showcased another of our most popular titles, Lonesome Dove. Capturing the sweeping visual imagery of the original miniseries, the Lonesome Dove exhibition presents classic images taken during filming by Bill Wittliff, renowned photographer, writer, and executive producer (with Suzanne De Passe) of Lonesome Dove. The images, however, are worlds apart from ordinary production stills, depicting an extraordinary union of art, literature, and history.
Lonesome Dove drew a crowd of over 2,500 people and was so popular that it made the local news. Lyn Caudle, who worked on special effects for the Lonesome Dove miniseries and was on set when the photographs were taken by Wittliff, drove in from Dallas to view the exhibition.
Olivia Moore, director of the East Texas Oil Museum, said, "The reactions of visitors ranged from being transported back in time, to loving the photographs as beautiful artistic images, to even recalling first-hand experiences of Lonesome Dove being filmed." Visit the KLTV website for a glimpse of the exhibition and to hear more about what visitors had to say.
Lonesome Dove wasn't the only exhibition to make the news in 2019. Throughout June 2019, the Grace Museum in Abilene hosted Citizens at Last: The Woman Suffrage Movement of Texas, an exhibition covering the national beginnings of the suffrage movement, early Texas leaders, anti-suffrage sentiments, efforts to amend the Texas Constitution, and, finally, the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.
Erika Parker, collections manager at the Grace Museum, promoted the exhibition on Abilene's CBS-affiliate KTAB. Holding the book that inspired the exhibition, Parker stated, "This is the kind of history you don't necessarily get in school. You might hear a piece of it, but you might not get as detailed or as deep into it." To see the news segment and preview the exhibition, visit the KTAB website.
The Grace Museum also hosted a related public lecture titled "Unladylike: Texas Women and the Slow Unfurling of the Right to Vote." Tiffany Fink, professor of history at Hardin-Simmons University, invited the audience to celebrate and remember those who fought to exercise their constitutionally legal rights. After the lecture, the audience was encouraged to view the exhibition.
LeTourneau University in Longview hosted two exhibitions, Literary East Texas and Texas Writers, from October 18–November 17, 2019. Literary East Texas honors twenty-five writers who have called East Texas home, surveying their literary accomplishments and their writings on the region. Texas Writers showcases the vitality and breadth of creative writing in Texas from the mid-twentieth century to the turn of the twenty-first. A public presentation by author and poet John Poch supplemented the exhibitions. Poch read from his most recent publication, Texases, which offers readers a kaleidoscopic view of his home state and its geography and people, past and present.
Last summer, the J. N. Long Cultural Arts Complex in Cleburne hosted Art Around the World, a three-month program celebrating art and history from cultures across the globe. During August 2019, the program featured The Treasures of Tutankhamun, a traveling exhibition studying the life of the legendary boy king of Egypt through images of royal tombs, buried treasures, mummies, and more. Susan Ford from the J. N. Long Cultural Arts Complex said, "The Treasures of Tutankhamun was a wonderful partner to our own program, and several people remarked that they came specifically to [see] the exhibition from Humanities Texas." In additional to the Tutankhamun exhibition, the summer program also included Gold of El Dorado: Prehistoric Art of Colombia (June 2019) and The Art of Chivalry: European Arms and Armor (July 2019).
Many of the exhibition rentals above were made possible with Humanities Texas mini-grants. When asked about the mini-grant program, Maggie Goodman at Johnson City Library said, "The Humanities Texas mini-grant program is amazing! I worked with such knowledgeable people who were always helpful and kind. They made sure every detail was done correctly. I wouldn't change a thing." To learn more about our grants program and how to apply, visit the Grants section of our website or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Humanities Texas traveling exhibitions book quickly! If you are interested in bringing an exhibition to your community, visit the Exhibitions section of our website or contact us at email@example.com.