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“Iconic attraction in San Antonio”

Institute of Texan Cultures
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US$54.07*
and up
San Antonio Cruiser and Double-Decker Bus Tour
Ranked #29 of 282 things to do in San Antonio
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: This museum is dedicated to the contributions of different ethnic groups in Texas.
Reviewed 17 October 2017

This is one of the better yet under appreciated attractions in the city and certainly one of my favorite museums. Housed in a very uniquely shaped structure, the institute has been around almost 50 years. I used to visit as a child but was always rushed through a visit by either family or my school. As an adult I was finally able to do a solo trip and take as much time as I wanted to fully digest and appreciate everything that was presented.

Starting back as far as 13,000 BC the museum covers all of the inhabitants of Texas from the early "Indians" to the subsequent cultures that immigrated here from the many diverse parts of our globe. There are several areas that clearly delineate the various periods and cultures. There are many hands on areas and some clever constructs which helps reinforce the message they are trying to convey.

In the center of all of this was the multifaceted ceiling dome which allowed for a unique five minute presentation of the multitude of cultures and events of Texas displayed on the many different surfaces of the dome. On the first floor of the facility they will host different themes that change on a frequent basis. The current theme is the colorful and spiritual "Day of the Dead" which celebrates the Spanish/Mexican Holiday that coincides with the western construct of Halloween (Samhain).

If you really intend on learning while here, plan to spend a minimum of three hours to truly immerse yourselves. The entrance fee is nominal and you will be given the opportunity to donate a few extra dollars to allow a disadvantaged child the opportunity to visit without cost. There is limited parking immediately outside of the entrance but I suspect it will be enough on most days. On the first or what would be considered by many to be the lower level is a fountain complex which appears to be non-functional at the moment.

Near the entrance (on the second floor) is the gift shop where you check in to pay the fees. The gift shop offers a modest selection of books covering various topics regarding Texas and the local area and also has many related trinkets and simulated artifacts. The day of the dead theme is prevalent at the moment and they are offering some very unusual but imaginative items such as decorated purses and sculptures.

When visiting San Antonio, a trip to this museum is certainly one of the first things you should do to help enhance your appreciation of the city and states origins. The many other historical locations you will visit afterwards will have much more meaning and come into context.

It has come to my attention by my many friends that the Institute is most likely facing the prospect of closing it's doors to the public in 2019 due to funding issues. If this is true this will be a sad day for many. Considering this is a part of the attraction of the inner city tourism, it would be a great loss to our guests and our city's residents.

Thank Stephanlee1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a ReviewReviews (409)
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"different cultures"
in 38 reviews
"ethnic groups"
in 16 reviews
"texas history"
in 42 reviews
"american indian"
in 5 reviews
"cultures represented"
in 4 reviews
"pre history"
in 4 reviews
"cultural exhibits"
in 4 reviews
"chuck wagon"
in 9 reviews
"hemisfair park"
in 10 reviews
"native americans"
in 10 reviews
"excellent museum"
in 5 reviews
"hemisphere park"
in 6 reviews
"two hours"
in 7 reviews
"answer questions"
in 5 reviews
"rainy day"
in 4 reviews
"convention center"
in 6 reviews
"great place to visit"
in 8 reviews
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29 - 33 of 409 reviews

Reviewed 11 October 2017

I am learning that I do not care much for the guided tours here. The guides seem to start history with the arrival of Europeans on the scene. After standing around for half an hour watching an old white man trying to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together, I wandered off on my own and had a great time.

Each exhibit has documentation. If you can read, you really don't need a tour guide. From what I saw, I learned a lot more from reading than the guides were saying, and not once did I have to endure a lecture on how the "Murderous savages" forced the Spanish settlers to build forts.

There are exhibits representing an abundance of cultures, some that I did not know about. They have cultural exhibits from Spain, Morocco, Germany, France, Egypt, and Lebanon. At one of these I read where the Egyptian and Lebanese families made a type of beer for their children to drink because the water was making them ill. Today we have learned that the beer had tetracycline in it, which helped the children to be well far beyond the alcohol killing the bacteria found in the water.

As I said, I wandered away from the tour and visited the center myself, but I really enjoyed it, far more than any other attraction I have visited in San Antonio to date. It is located very near the Tower of the Americas.

1  Thank Wilbert Q
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 October 2017

We visited the Institute of Texan Cultures on an afternoon and were so surprised to find only 2 other couples in the entire place. We used a $3 off per person coupon, but admission was still well below the value of what you will find inside. This is an amazing walk through Texas history and well represents all of the many cultures who found their way to Texas. I’m not sure why another reviewer thought there was a slant to the information, because we most certainly did not find that to be true. We learned so much about the different ethnic groups. Becky was very informative on the ways gourds were used, how food was prepared, and how the homes were built. She took her time explaining details and asked if we had questions. The movie played in the dome was just ok. Would have liked to see more of a timeline reprise of the different cultures/ethnicities who came to Texas. But it is a free movie, so it wouldn’t be fair of me to complain about that. Take your time going through each exhibit. There are many hands-on things in each exhibit so young children can participate. I highly encourage you to visit this Institute when you come to San Antonio. Make it one of the first things you do and you will get a real appreciation of San Antonio’s history.

1  Thank Rebe79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 October 2017 via mobile

This place is awesome for couples,families and kids alike. Super educational, tons of artifacts, and “feel free to touch” spots in each area.

Thank Desiree R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 30 September 2017 via mobile

We are here watching the Tibetan Monks working on sand art. This is really awesome. They even have an area where they allow you to try it using the same tools the monks use. Again, always a learning experience for young and old when we come here.

Thank Texas1Lady
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
James B, Public Relations Manager at Institute of Texan Cultures, responded to this reviewResponded 3 October 2017

The reviewer is referring to a limited engagement, which took place Sept. 28 - Oct. 1, 2017; a visit from the monks of Deprung Loseling Monastery, to prepare a sand mandala, and lead a variety of activities including a "community mandala" exercise. - James B., ITC Communications

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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