Part of the Texas State History Museum Is Closing for Renovation

Time for the Bob Bullock's ship to come in

                        La Belle Redux
                        La Belle Redux

A portion of the Bullock Texas State History Museum's first floor of permanent exhibitions will close Tuesday, Feb. 17, to prepare for a major renovation centered on one of the most significant artifacts in Texas history.

Note: The renovation is major and the interim won't be minor: About 11,000 of the museum's 34,000 square feet of public exhibition space will be inaccessible until 2016.

This is the sort of accommodation necessary when preparing a permanent installation of the 300-year-old French ship "La Belle," La Salle's ill-fated vessel that – sunk during a storm in Matagorda Bay in 1686 – changed the course of Texas history when failed French colonization efforts spurred the Spanish to gain a greater foothold in what would become Texas.

Ah, the relentless vicissitudes of imperialism!

Note: The temporary "La Belle" exhibition currently on view will remain open through May 17, when the rebuilding of the bottom third of the ship's hull is scheduled for completion. The hull then will be moved to its permanent location. Construction will continue around the ship and you'll be able to watch this from the museum's second- and third-floor galleries.

By 2016, the excavated hull timbers of the ship will be preserved underneath a walkable deck of glass, with new masts built to soar three stories above visitors. Original artifacts – tiny beads, personal belongings, cannons, muskets, and other such shipboard essentials and ephemera – will also be on display.

Says Bullock Museum Director Dr. Victoria Ramirez, "One of the most important shipwrecks in North America has turned out to be one of the most unique exhibitions in the world."

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Bob Bullock Museum, Texas State History Museum, La Belle, museum renovation, Texas History, La Salle

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