What a bold future for ITC entails

For more than 50 years, the Institute of Texan Cultures, or ITC, has played an important role in educating Texans and others about the state’s unique cultural heritage. During this time, the landscape of Texas and San Antonio has changed. And with each generation, the cultural dynamics of the state evolve.

Since 1973, the University of Texas at San Antonio has managed ITC. In 2021, he launched the ITC Centennial 2068 Community Stakeholder Visioning initiative to gather community feedback while recognizing the important connection between Texas cultural history and a vibrant vision.

Three task forces brought together a diverse group of more than 40 industry and community leaders, each with a distinct set of expertise and experiences, to lead the charge. The Museum of the Future Task Force envisioned a way for ITC to provide engaging and distinctive learning experiences for visitors and school children. The community engagement and sustainable support working group focused on deepening engagement to strengthen ITC’s impact. The Facilities and Land Stewardship Working Group reviewed the optimal internal/external physical space and ITC location to enhance the programmatic experience.

Although we are three different bands, we were surprised at how much common ground surfaced.

Throughout the process, we deliberated with subject matter experts, reviewed consultant reports, had in-depth discussions, and solicited community feedback. Each working group engaged in a process that valued every voice. While the possibilities of our recommendations could have been very different, we found many areas of overlap in the final recommendations we presented for community feedback and to the steering committee for the second phase of the visioning process.

Above all, we recognize the need to create a revitalized and relevant ICT with interactive and immersive experiences, dining and retail options and a strong brand to generate community pride. Accessibility — for all ages and languages, to all spaces, to all exhibits and community activities, and to all modes of transportation — is essential.

We envision an ITC that is a welcoming and stimulating presence for local visitors and a sought-after attraction for visitors from around the world. We recognize the importance of ITC’s cultural festivals and recommend exploring more opportunities for cultural engagement activities that will bring in additional visitors, revenue and exposure.

Leveraging ITC’s central role in education and strengthening the connection with UTSA’s faculty, programming and resources will open up a wealth of opportunities for the community, as well as for students and faculty at the UTSA. Exploring partnerships and affiliations to celebrate cultural engagement will build a better ITC.

Many of our discussions focused on the facility known as the Texas Pavilion, the current home of ITC’s collections and the site of its cultural festivals for nearly 50 years. While the Texas Pavilion, built for the 1968 World’s Fair, is renowned, it does not meet museum standards for maintaining exhibits and archives. The facility also lacks the technological capabilities to meet the needs of an immersive museum experience. The cost of meeting these needs is prohibitive.

Establishing a modern, highly visible and appropriately designed museum facility with flexible space to accommodate multiple functions and intensive use is crucial to taking ITC into the future. We believe ITC should stay downtown.

As Chairs of the ITC Centennial 2068 Task Force, we are grateful for the time spent by each Task Force member and subject matter expert, and we are grateful for their candor and their respectful and passionate exchange of ideas and prospects.

We are proud of their work and look forward to the next phase of the process as the Steering Committee synthesizes our recommendations, community feedback and expert resources to create actionable scenarios for the future of ITC to present. to head UTSA later this spring. Most importantly, we look forward to an exciting new future for the Institute of Texas Cultures.

Matt Brown, Darryl Byrd and Chris Torgerson are the co-chairs of the ITC working group. This comment also reflects the views of Karl Miller-Lugo, UTSA Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations; Veronica Garcia Rodriguez, Acting Chief Curator of UTSA ITC; and Veronica Salazar, UTSA’s Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of Commercial Affairs.

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