New Exhibition Seeks to Put Complexity in the Alamo Story

Historians in the News
tags: Alamo, Texas history

The new Alamo Collections Center, located on the grounds of the mission-turned fortress, site of the 1836 battle during the Texas Revolution against Mexico, opens on Friday.

It aims to tell the full tale of the Alamo era, unlike the one seen in movies and even in past displays at the state's top tourist attraction.

John Wayne's movie The Alamo, released in 1960, was a largely entertainment-driven-movie that did much to boost tourism for the Alamo. But it also helped bolster myths.

The movie, for example, showed predominantly American-born Anglo defenders inside. There were Mexican-born defenders too who fought alongside Europeans.

The Alamo also had ties to slavery — and Native American groups say the area includes a sacred burial ground.

In the decades since the movie, groups representing Mexican-Americans, Black Americans, and indigenous people have pushed for a more diverse history-telling from the state and the Alamo itself about the people and events before, during, and after the battle.

Their efforts intensified as the city, county, and mostly the state pledged to pump half a billion dollars to make a tourist visit to the Alamo a bigger and more educational experience.

Officials at the Alamo said more of those diverse histories will be told through a new collections center that can display 500 artifacts at a time.

"The Alamo Collections Center is the newest constructed building on the grounds of the Alamo, from the ground up, since the 1950s,” said Jonathan Huhn, the director of communications at the Alamo. "It's truly a game changer because when I came to the site, about a year ago, the one statistic that really surprised me was we could only put 1% of our total artifacts on display."

Read entire article at Texas Public Radio