One of the first things you’ll see when you walk into the Museum of South Texas History (MOSTHistory) is a giant mosasaur skeleton. The unusual fossil is just a glimpse of the unique artifacts and history that you will discover as you walk through the museum’s state-of-the-art exhibits housed in historic and contemporary buildings of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. Of the nation’s estimated 35,000 museums, just 3 percent are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, a figure that includes MOSTHistory.
The Museum of South Texas History provides a great opportunity for tourists, families, history buffs, educators and students to learn about the historic culture and heritage of South Texas and Northeastern Mexico. This area along the Rio Grande River has been home to some of the most influential characters in the history of the United States and Mexico. Because of its geographical location, the Rio Grande Valley (Valley) has played a major role in world events, such as the Spanish colonization of this continent and the American Civil War. “An interesting aspect about the history of our region is that it connects us with world history,” said Lisa K. Loebl, Marketing and Public Relations Officer of MOSTHistory. “Our story is unique not only because it covers the history of two countries, but because it touches on historic people and events around the world.”
The museum’s Rio Grande Legacy permanent exhibition spans prehistory through the 20th century, revealed in three parts — River Frontier, River Legacy, and River Crossroads. You will find ancient tools and fossils dating back to when the area was completely underwater, colonial treasures from the Spanish colonization of this region in the 1700s, a steamboat replica from the area’s trade and development boom in the mid 1800s, and battlefield relics from important battles of the Mexican and the American Civil Wars. Visitors will also learn the story of the Rio Grande Valley through an exciting multimedia experience found in all three of the museum’s galleries. “As you walk through our exhibits, you will hear music from that time period, animal growls and many other sounds that enhance your total visitor experience” explained Loebl. “Visitors can view educational videos in integrated theaters and all of our exhibits are bilingual with the text in English and Spanish.”
The Museum of South Texas History has chronicled the rich cultural heritage of the Rio Grande Valley for 45 years and is a great educational experience for all ages. Founded in 1967 as the Hidalgo County Historical Museum in the 1910 Hidalgo County Jail (a Texas State Historic Landmark), MOSTHistory underwent a 5.5 million dollar expansion in 2003 that added 22,500 square feet to the facilities, providing for a new wing that includes the Museum Store, Grand Lobby and permanent exhibits.
For outdoor enthusiasts, MOSTHistory’s Will Looney Legacy Park is a great place for both locals and tourists to spend exploring native animal trails and plants on a winding walkway, a wooden windmill and water tank, a traditional leña fence formed by stacking mesquite logs and other outdoor fun for the entire family. For researchers and history buffs, MOSTHistory is also home to the Margaret H. McAllen Memorial Archives – the Valley’s largest collection of historical documents, photographs, videos, and maps.
The Museum of South Texas History’s commitment to preserving the strong cultural roots and tradition of the area doesn’t stop there. The museum partners with local school districts to educate students through guided tours. It also hosts monthly programs and special events throughout the year such as Pioneer & Ranching Crafts Day, Summer Nights at the Museum and Día de los Muertos, where visitors can experience traditions first-hand.
Located in downtown Edinburg at 200 North Closner Boulevard on the Hidalgo County Courthouse square, the museum’s hours of operation are from 1-5 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Admission is $7 adults (ages 18+); $5 seniors with ID (ages 62+), students with ID (ages 13+); $4 children ages 4 to 12; free, children ages 3 and under. FRIENDS of the museum are admitted free as a benefit of FRIENDship. The blended history of two countries through state-of-the-art-facilities, educational programs and special events, an extensive collection of artifacts and archival documents, gardens landscaped with native plants … find it all at the Museum of South Texas History.