The Museum of South Texas History (MOSTHistory), accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is a place filled with the culture and tradition of South Texas. Over the course of forty-four years, the museum has evolved from its founding as the Hidalgo County Historical Museum in the historic 1910 Hidalgo County Jail to a 50,000 square foot complex occupying a full city block after a $5.5 million transformation. Stepping into the museum’s Grand Lobby, the visitor quickly realizes that an outstanding experience waits.
The museum’s mission is to preserve and present the borderland heritage of South Texas and Northeastern Mexico. Exhibits span prehistory through the 20th century, the museum’s Margaret H. McAllen Memorial Archives provide access to researchers of regional history from across the nation and around the world, and the Museum Store offers a shopping experience tied to our regional culture — from trinkets for children to jewelry, gift items and books on regional history for adults.
The museum is utilized by local families, winter visitors and general tourists. One of the most important groups of visitors to the museum, however, is school children. By way of flat-fee contracts with many area school districts or individual class tours, the museum collaborates with local educators to provide a student tour experience that solidly enhances learning in the classroom. Of particular note, museum visitor studies have established a strong connection between visits to museums early in life by children and a positive impact on their learning.
Lisa K. Loebl, MOSTHistory’s marketing and public relations officer, emphasized the importance of the connection between the museum and schools stating, “The school season is just starting, and we are working with a variety of schools to start their tours so that the learning experience is incorporated into the classroom early in the year. Whether it’s the materials that were used to build the museum or the native plants outside, there is a reason behind everything in this museum. There is always something new to discover.”
Contracting districts assure a place for their students on the tour schedule, led by trained docents that tie the tour to the fourth and seventh grade Texas History curriculum and testing metrics. Melodie A. Cuate, a retired fourth grade GT teacher and author of a highly respected children’s book series adopted by many schools across the state of Texas, is the museum’s newest education officer. Responsible for the strategic and operational leadership of the department, she recently invited educators, families, writers and history enthusiasts to meet with her at the museum as she provided an overview of MOSTHistory’s Education Department and solicited their feedback. She also presented on book seven in her award-winning time-travel series, Mr. Barrington’s Mysterious Trunk “Journey to Galveston,” which is available for purchase in the Museum Store. In addition, she shared information on the “History on the Move” trunks that can be checked out for classroom use at no charge, monthly puppet shows, family discovery activities and ways that schools can book tours at the museum.