Architect: Caudill, Rowlett & Scott – Houston, TX
Exhibit Designer: Gordon Ashby – San Francisco, CA &
. Usher-Follis, Inc. – Los Angles, CA
“The Institute of Texan Cultures tells the story of Texans: who they are, where they came from, what they did to make Texas what it is today.” (HemisFair Guidebook, 1968)
Built as the largest pavilion, the Texas pavilion featured a large open floor plan which was divided into several sections one for each of the ethnic groups which settled Texas. In the center of the exhibit floor is a domed ceiling which housed a then state of the art projection system featuring an hourly show on the history of Texas.
The basic design of the structure resembles an inverted pyramid with an earthen berm perimeter.
Below are scans of Spanish brochure material from the pavilion. (Click on images for a closer look)
Below are exterior images of the pavilion. (Click on image for a closer look)
“A central dome, sixty by eighty feet in diameter and two stories high, contains the dramatic climax of the show. This is an ultra-modern film and slide presentation using 36 screens and 42 projectors“.(HemisFair Guidebook, 1968)
“The viewer will find himself surrounded by color and activity-a quick look at the people of Texas with special emphasis on the ceremonies which, having been preserved within each of the cultural groups, preserve the ways of the native country”.(HemisFair Guidebook, 1968)
In the early 2000s the original dome show was retired, partly due to the fact that the original projection systems were showing their age and replacement parts were proving difficult to find. After the dome was retrofitted with a new system, newer shows can easily incorporate still photography, audio and video.
As part of the year long exhibit celebrating HemisFair’s 40th anniversary a customized show was created showcasing archive video and music from the fair
In 1968 KLRN TV was the fledgling public television station serving the San Antonio & Austin areas, was housed at Cambridge Elementary School since it’s creation in 1962. Prior to the opening of HemisFair, station operations were moved into the newly completed Texas Pavilion’s upper floors. According to the documentary on HemisFair produced by KLRN in 1998, General Electric donated the necessary hardware to upgrade the station from black & white to color transmission. KLRN also produced a daily ½ hour program showcasing fair events as well as interviewing visiting celebrities & dignitaries. Station operations remained in the Texas Pavilion till 1994.
Since the early 1970’s the institute has hosted several yearly events showcasing the rich and varied ethnic history of the great state of Texas. Some of the larger events include the Texas Folklife Festival, and Asian Festival.
After the fair the museum became apart of the newly founded university and today is referred to as the HemisFair Campus. Prior to the donation of 650 acres on the far north side of San Antonio, the former fair grounds were on the short list of possible locations for the new university.
Below are pictures of the pavilion after the Fair. (Click on images for a closer look)
Below are pictures of the pavilion today. (Click on images for a closer look)
In 2009 the ITC was accepted into the Smithsonian’s affiliate program.