Tag Archive for: institute of texan cultures

are you wendish?

wendishThis question has been on my mind since visiting the Institute of Texan Cultures to announce our new affiliation on January 28, 2010.  Housed in the formidable Texas Pavilion, a landmark of San Antonio’s HemisFair Park, the Institute celebrates the diverse heritage of early Texans in its core exhibition, Texans One and All. Here one finds thoughtfully interpreted and artifact-filled displays of Mexican, African American, Czech, German, Jewish, and Lebanese Texans, among others, and…. Wends.

A quick survey of friends and Smithsonian savants revealed that I was not alone in my unfamiliarity with this group of Texans.  Wends it turns out are a Slavic people who began migrating into Germany and the Baltic region in the first millennium and have maintained their ethnic identity ever since.  The Wends of Texas, better known as Sorbs or Lusatian Serbs, first arrived in Texas in 1853, settling in German speaking areas, and eventually populating the towns of Serbin and Giddings.


UTSA President Dr. Ricardo Romo; Dr. Harriett Romo Director of UTSA CAPRI/MEXICO CENTER; Harold Closter, Director of Smithsonian Affiliations and Tim Gette, Executive Director, ITC.

The Institute of Texan Cultures, organizer of the Texas Folklife Festival, served as a catalyst for the revitalization of Wendish culture in Texas through its annual call for festival participants, which helped to launch the Texas Wendish Heritage Society.  Today, according to the Institute, “the community at Serbin holds an annual Wendish Fest and extends a welcome, Witajcže K’nam, to visitors. During the affair church services are conducted in German and English, a Czech band may play, and corn-shucking contests are held. Some of the local descendants dress in European Wendish costume.”  The Institute emphasizes colorful Wendish wedding traditions in its display.

This is just one of the many stimulating encounters to be found at the Institute of Texan Cultures.  It is not surprising that a state with so much space and so many natural resources would be a magnet for so many different people.  Whether familiar or not, there is always much to learn about the heritage of our predecessors, and the adaptations and sacrifices made or forced upon them.  At the Texas banquet table, diversity is served in complex and compelling dishes.  There’s room for all at this enormous spread….including the Wendish.


Tim Gette and Congressman Charles A. Gonzalez (TX-20) at ceremony announcing the affiliation between the Institute of Texan Cultures and the Smithsonian Institution.

Stop by the Institute of Texan Cultures when you are next in San Antonio and offer a hearty Witajcže K’nam.  They’ll know what you’re talking about.

affiliates in the news: week of jan 18

Congratulations to these Affiliates making headlines this week!

Arizona State Museum (Tucson)
Hopi lecturer illuminates culture

Wing Luke Asian Museum (Los Angeles)
4Culture funds local heritage and cultural facilities projects 

381 Days: The Montgomery Bus Boycott Story

381 Days: The Montgomery Bus Boycott Story. Photo by Don Cravens; courtesy Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

San Diego Natural History Museum
San Diego’s Natural History Museum recieves LEED certification

High Museum of Art (Atlanta)
5 Ga. Art Museums Form Partnership
Georgia Art Museums Collaborate to Share Resources and Collections Across the State

Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth)
Recycling at Plimoth Plantation

The African American Museum in Philadelphia
“381 Days: The Montgomery Bus Boycott Story” donated to the African American Museum in Philadelphia

National Civil War Museum Curator, Brett Kelley

National Civil War Museum Curator, Brett Kelley

National Civil War Museum (Harrisburg)
Man Lives Civil War Style

Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio)
Institute takes a look at ‘Race’

Birthplace of Country Music Alliance (Bristol)
Federal Funding Aids Birthplace of Country Music Alliance Center
$2.5 million allocated for Birthplace of Country Music Alliance museum/performance center

affiliates in the news: week of jan 11

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Champaign, Illinois)
A massive star is born: Time-lapse movie shows that massive stars form like their smaller siblings

National Civil War Museum (Harrisburg, PA)
Museum curator to experience life of Civil War soldier

Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio, TX)
Institute of Texan Cultures Formalizes Partnership with Smithsonian Institution
Institute of Texan Cultures links up with Smithsonian
UTSA museum to become Smithsonian affiliate

Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science (Tallahassee, FL)
Tallahassee Hosts Four Centuries of African American Art and History
Brogan expands access with technology

Historic Bethlehem Partnership (Bethlehem, PA)
Merchants, event organizers report an upturn in holiday activity in Bethlehem over the previous year

Rubin Museum of Art (New York, NY)
The cosmos cycles on…
Visions of the Cosmos, Rubin Museum of Art, New York

North Carolina Museum of History (Raleigh, NC)
SECU grants $500k to North Carolina Museum of History

Miami Science Museum (Miami, FL)
MetLife Foundation Announces More Than $1,000,000 in Grants to Five Nationally-Recognized Science Museums to Engage Youth in Scientific Learning and Discovery