The Rio Grande Valley is a place full of culture and history, and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the region’s collection of museums. From one that celebrates the excitement and dangers of the sea to another that honors a city located at the bottom of a lake, the Valley’s one-of-a-kind past comes to life through these exclusive south Texas museums.
A Unique Maritime History
With a location along the Gulf Coast, theValley has a dynamic maritime history that can be explored at the Museums of Port Isabel complex. This complex hosts three facilities, including the Port Isabel Lighthouse, the Port Isabel Historical Museum and the unique Treasures of the Gulf Museum – the latter of which focuses on three 1554 Spanish shipwrecks that occurred on the northern end of South Padre Island. Visitors to the Treasures of the Gulf Museum learn the stories behind these ill-fated shipwrecks and the dangers of navigating the seas in the 16th century. Displays feature original artifacts salvaged from the wrecks, including coins, silver planchas (disks) and weapons. The museum houses an interactive Children’s Discovery Lab, complete with information on marine archaeology and a small-scale ship for kids to board and imagine setting sail on the Gulf waters. Also included on-site are the Ship Theater and Nautical Gift Shop.
The Treasures of the Gulf Museum is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday.
Irrigation: Transforming Life in the Rio Grande Valley
The inception of steam-powered irrigation in the early 1900s forever changed the landscape of the Rio Grande Valley, reshaping aquasi-desert rangeland into rich farmland ideal for year-round harvesting. Irrigation transformed the Valley into an agricultural powerhouse, and the Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum recognizes its impact on life in South Texas. Housed in a 1909 pumphouse originally owned and operated by the Louisiana-Rio Grande Canal Company, the Hidalgo Pumphouse Museum features authentic machinery, including pumps, steam engines and boilers, and a collection of displays explaining the irrigation process and its unquestionable influence in the Valley. The museum is part of the World Birding Center, providing opportunities for exploration in its surrounding acreage.
• Brownsville Heritage Museum
1325 E. Washington St., Brownsville
• Brownsville Museum Of Fine Art
660 E. Ringgold St., Brownsville
• Children's Museum of Brownsville
501 E. Ringgold St., Brownsville
• Commemorative Air Force RGV
955 S. Minnesota Ave., Brownsville
• Costumes of The Americans Museum
501 Ringgold St., Ste 5, Brownsville
• Donna Hooks Fletcher Museum
318 S. Main St.
• Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum
2425 Boxwood St., Harlingen
• Historic Brownsville Museum
641 E. Madison St., Brownsville
• International Museum of Art & Science
1900 W. Nolana Ave., McAllen
• Iwo Jima Museum Gift Shop
320 Iwo Jima Blvd., Harlingen
• Mission Historical Museum
900 Doherty Ave., Mission
• Museum of South Texas History
200 N. Closner Blvd., Edinburg
• Old Hidalgo Pumphouse
900 S. 2nd St., Hidalgo
• Port Isabel Historic Museum/ Treasures of the Gulf
317 E. Railroad Ave., Port Isabel
• Public Art
2200 Boca Chica Blvd., Brownsville
• Raymondville Historical Museum
427 S. 7th St., Raymondville
• Museum of San Benito/Texas Conjunto Music Hall 210 E. Heywood St., San Benito (956) 399-9991
• Weslaco Bicultural Museum
500 S. Texas Blvd., Weslaco