The Museum of the Big Bend in Alpine, Texas recently announced its plan to add a new building to its museum campus. Dedicated to preserving the history and culture of the Big Bend region, the museum was established in 1921 at Sul Ross Normal College (now Sul Ross State University), and was run as the West Texas Historical and Scientific Society, before being given its current name in 1937, soon after the institution’s building was constructed.
In 2007, the museum’s building and exhibits underwent a renovation and restoration. Through a partnership with Museumscapes, a firm specializing in exhibition layout and design, the Museum of the Big Bend’s main 6,000 square-foot exhibition, covering prehistoric through modern history of the region, was rejiggered and updated, allowing visitors to better understand the museum’s narrative.
Now, in a move that will double its size, the museum is planning to build a new 10,000 square-foot building which will include spaces for temporary exhibitions and a gallery dedicated to the paintings of Texas artist Tom Lea, along with additional indoor and outdoor event spaces. While the existing building will show items related to history and cartography, including the museum’s newly-created Texas Map Research Center, the new building will “focus on art, archives and archaeology with nature.” The two buildings will be connected by a glass walkway.
Mary Bones, the Museum of the Big Bend’s director, commented to Glasstire about the museum’s new expansion project:
“We have decided to expand and beautify the Museum with a new addition, the Museum Complex. The Museum Complex will enhance the Museum and Sul Ross State University with a building design like no other in the area. The Museum Complex will feature an interior and exterior event space, galleries for rotating exhibits and the Tom Lea Beef Cattle paintings on loan from the Dallas Museum of Art and space for the Museum’s collection. We are excited to embark on this exciting building campaign for the Museum, Sul Ross State University and the Big Bend area!”
The museum’s new building will be designed by Larry Speck of Texas architectural firm Page Southerland Page. The firm’s past projects include The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Academic Performing Arts Complex in Edinburg, the Mesquite Arts Center, and the San Antonio Museum of Art, among others.
Funding for the project comes in part from the King Foundation, the King Family Charitable Fund through the Permian Basin Area Foundation, and friends of the late Kay Green, who was the museum’s director’s advisory council member and chair.