As one of the newest cultural jewels of the San Antonio River Walk, The Briscoe Western Art Museum is a must-see stop for fans of the history, culture and art of the American West. Housed in the restored historic former San Antonio Public Library building, The Briscoe offers a permanent collection of Western art and artifacts, displayed in nine galleries reflecting themes of movement, work, conflict and opportunity — key elements in the rich history of the American West.
Through paintings, sculpture, photography and historic relics, The Briscoe weaves together stories of the American Indians, vaqueros, American cowboys, pioneer women and others who define the West.
Named in honor of the late Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr. and his wife, Janey, the museum opened in the fall of 2013.
Highlights of the museum include Pancho Villa’s last known saddle, an interactive diorama of the Alamo conflict, a restored chuck wagon and replica Wells Fargo stagecoach, and Santa Anna’s ceremonial sword and sheath.
Next door to The Briscoe is the Jack Guenther Pavilion, a three-story event venue with a modern architectural aesthetic and stunning views of the River Walk and downtown San Antonio. Adjacent to the Pavilion is the McNutt Sculpture Garden, with its central courtyard and lush setting showcasing an impressive display of bronze sculptures created by the country’s top Western artists.
Throughout the year, the museum hosts a number of cultural events, special exhibitions, gallery talks, two film series and a distinguished lecture series.
Upcoming Exhibitions and Events:
That Day: Pictures in the American West
The Photographs of Laura Wilson
September 15–December 10
Free with museum admission This exhibition of 80 photographs by renowned photographer and author Laura Wilson introduces us to worlds that are framed equally by beauty and violence, taking us into a West defined by diverse communities outside the suburban middle class.
Wilson’s subjects range from legendary West Texas cattle ranches to impoverished Plains Indian reservations to lavish border-town cotillions. Also featured are compelling portraits of artists who are associated with the region, including Donald Judd, Ed Ruscha and Sam Shepard.
The unforgettable images in That Day tell sharply drawn stories of the people and places that have shaped, and continue to shape, the nation’s most dynamic and unyielding land. Text from Wilson’s journals accompanies the photographs, recalling her personal experiences behind the camera at the moment when a particular image was captured. Wilson casts a fresh light on the West — a topic of enduring fascination.
Yanaguana Indian Arts Market
October 7th–8th from 10AM–4PM
The first weekend in October, The Briscoe Western Art Museum hosts its popular Yanaguana Indian Arts Market — the only one of its kind in Texas. Now in its fourth year, the two-day event features dancing, musical performances, storytelling, artist demonstrations (glass blowing, painting, printmaking, pottery, sand painting and weaving), interactive art-making and Native American-inspired food. This community event offers visitors a glimpse into tribal tradition and contemporary Native culture.
Yanaguana refers to the San Antonio River’s earliest known name, given by the Payaya people who inhabited the region. Support for Native artists, their livelihood and the integrity of their artistic process is very much a part of The Briscoe’s mission.
Participating artists represent more than two dozen federally recognized tribes from various parts of the country. The Yanaguana Indian Arts Market is held in accordance with the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, a critical piece of legislation that protects Native artists and consumers; market attendees are assured that what they purchase is authentic and that the materials used are of the highest quality.
Tuesday 10 a.m.–9 p.m. (free admission 4–9 p.m.)
Wednesday–Sunday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
$10 adults; $8 seniors (65 and over), students and retired military Free for children 12 and under, and active military and family (up to four people)
The Briscoe Western Art Museum is located at 210 W. Market St., San Antonio. For more information, call 210-299-4499 or visit briscoemuseum.org.
Photos courtesy of the Briscoe Western Art Museum