Day Trips: Bryan Museum, Galveston

The story of Texas through rare artifacts

Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

The Bryan Museum in Galveston captures the essence of Texas and the American West through rare artifacts and unique art.

On three floors, the museum tells the story of the state and the people who tamed it with violence, hard work, and compassion. The museum is not all guns and saddles, although there is plenty of that, but there also are religious icons, tools of past eras, and stories of the people.

Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

One of the most interesting rooms is the gallery of Texas artists. Frank Reaugh, José Arpa y Perea, Elisabet Ney, and Robert and Julian Onderdonk captured more than images of Texas in their art. The early paintings of San Antonio by Theodore Gentilz depict a city on the frontier in its infancy.

Housed in the former Galveston Orphans Home, Texas oilman J.P. Bryan assembled the collection over a lifetime. The great-great-grandson of Stephen F. Austin's sister, Emily Austin Bryan Perry, Bryan began collecting historical artifacts as a preteen. Over nearly seven decades, he amassed one of the world's largest private collections of items related to the history of Texas and the American West, spanning more than 12,000 years.

Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

A walk through the galleries is a stroll through the past with personal items telling the stories along the way. From Frank Reaugh's art tools to a playing card signed by John Wesley Hardin, the museum is a unique telling of the story of Texas.

The Bryan Museum is at 1315 21st St. in Galveston. There is an admission charge to the museum Wednesday through Sunday from 10am-5pm, with free hours from 5-7pm on the first Thursday of the month.

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Bryan Museum, Galveston, Texas artists, Frank Reaugh, Jos, é Arpa y Perea, Théodore Gentilz, Galveston Orphans Home, J.P. Bryan, Stephen F. Austin, Emily Austin Perry, John Wesley Hardin

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