Visitors and Alamo officials gathered outside the new 24,000-square-foot, $15 million Alamo Collections Center for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday to celebrate its opening and unveil its official name: the Ralston Family Collections Center.

The new building housing roughly 2,500 artifacts was named for the family of Shannon Ralston, who is the largest donor to date to the Alamo’s supporting foundation, the Remember the Alamo Foundation. Ralston, the CEO of San Antonio-based Angel Staffing, donated $11.4 million on behalf of her family and medical personnel who work for her company.

“It’s imperative that we honor our history exactly as it occurred and tell the stories that will inspire the minds of future generations,” said Ralston, who was joined by her family and business colleagues.

To officially open the building, Ralston sliced through a red ribbon stretched across the entrance with a replica Bowie knife, the type made famous by Alamo defender Jim Bowie.

Among those attending the opening ceremony were former Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and his wife, Tracy Wolff; San Antonio City Council members Mario Bravo (D1), Clayton Perry (D10) and Melissa Cabello Havrda (D6); and former Bexar County Commissioner Marialyn Barnard.

Members of the Daughters of Texas and Sons of Texas also were present.

After the ceremony, the center opened its doors for the first time to ceremony attendees, although Alamo officials had been conducting informal tours of the exhibition space in recent weeks. It opened to the public at noon.

The center is located behind the Alamo Church and is the first building constructed on the Alamo grounds since the 1950s, but won’t be the last. In 2026, the historic Crockett and Woolworth buildings will be repurposed into the Alamo Visitor Center and Museum as part of a $388 million redevelopment plan, a partnership among the City of San Antonio, the nonprofit Alamo Trust and the Texas General Land Office.

Until its scheduled opening in 2026, the Alamo Collections Center will house the Phil Collins Collection, the Donald and Louise Yena Spanish Colonial Collection and the Alamo Collection. Once the items are moved to the museum, the Collections Center will be dedicated to rotating exhibits focused on specific aspects of Alamo history. 

“This is a perfect project for my family to reinvest in Texas, to honor the past, to celebrate where we are today and to be a part of educating many future generations,” Ralston said.

The opening of the new center marked the start of a new chapter in the ongoing effort to present the full story of the much-revered Texas icon.

“What we’ve been focusing on for many years now is trying to tell the full story,” said Senior Curator and Historian Ernesto Rodriguez at a media preview on Tuesday, including describing what occurred before and after the 13 days of the 1836 battle, the story of the Indigenous peoples who occupied the site for thousands of years, all the way through the site’s Civil Rights era and modern history.

He also said the purpose of the new center and museum is not only to tell the story of the Alamo through artifacts, but to tell the story of the “collector’s journey.”

“We are expanding what we tell people because we’re getting more space to tell it,” Rodriguez said. “And we’re not shying away from anything.”

Visitors can purchase timed-entry tickets for the collections center starting at $14 for adults, $10 for children, $12 for adult military and $9 for children of military members. The center will be open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with entry every 15 minutes until 4 p.m. 

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Raquel Torres

Raquel Torres is the San Antonio Report's breaking news reporter. She previously worked at the Tyler Morning Telegraph and is a 2020 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University.