San Jacinto museum banks on ‘sprit of giving’
After a six-week closure caused by the March 17 fire at Deer Park’s Internationals Terminal Co., the museum association for the San Jacinto State Historical Site is seeking donations to cover revenue losses estimated at $200,000.
The San Jacinto Museum of History Association is banking on what museum president Larry Spasic calls “the Texas spirit of giving” to get things right at the site where a Texan victory won Texas’ independence from Mexico in April 21, 1836.
While it had been quiet during the time tourists were kept away while air quality and soil samples were monitored, the museum’s administrative staff stayed busy developing ways people can help.
The Revenue Recovery Campaign has been set up to receive tax-free monetary donations three ways: a phone call to the museum, by mail or through its website.
“Those ways are the most efficient, the least expensive and most helpful ways that people can help us get back on our feet,” Spasic said.
Because the museum is a private nonprofit educational organization, it does not receive state or federal assistance with its budget, Spasic said. In addition, while there are fees to visit various exhibits, admission to the museum is free, and its officials want to keep it that way, Spasic said.
“People can come out and visit and leave spending only what gas money it took to get here; so when our site is shut down and we have guests from hundreds of Texas communities and all 50 states and District of Columbia and foreign nations not able to visit, that directly impacts our budget to the extent of thousands of dollars every day we’re closed,” Spasic said.
The museum had to cancel the annual San Jacinto Day festival and re-enactment, which attracts 15,000 visitors, and lost out on Spring Break tourists.
“We are opening this museum understanding that we do have this challenge, but also understanding the history of who we are and importance of this site as the site where Texas won its independence, and how important it is to U.S. and world citizens,” Spasic said.
He cites the museum’s expansive collection of artifacts and documents that cover the histories of native people of Central America, Mexico and the Southwest. The museum loans pieces of that collection to other Texas museums, including the Bryan Museum in Galveston, the Witte Museum in San Antonio and the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin.
Museum items include a ring given to Sam Houston by his mother, a musket that was owned by Sam Houston and presidents James Madison and Andrew Jackson and a letter from the Queen Isabella of Spain.
When the San Jacinto museum reopened May 8, Spasic greeted visitors from three states who were unaware that the museum had been closed.
He said the recovery process can be used as an introduction to those unfamiliar with the museum’s role in Texas’ historical preservation.
“We just ask everyone to make an effort to donate what they can and to help us do what we have always done since we opened this museum on April 20, 1939,” he said.
To make a donation, call 281-479-2421, mail a check to San Jacinto Monument, 1 Monument Circle, La Porte, TX 77571 or go to https://bit.ly/2J9J74Y