(From left) Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, Mayor Ivy Taylor, Witte President and CEO Marise McDermott, "Kojo," and Witte capital campaign co-chair Samuel Dawson. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
(From left) Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, Mayor Ivy Taylor, Witte President and CEO Marise McDermott, "Kojo," and Witte capital campaign co-chair Samuel Dawson. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Though construction has already begun and more than 350,000 artifacts are being packed up inside the main building at the Witte Museum, City of San Antonio, Bexar County, Witte Board, and corporate sponsor representatives dug deep into a mound of soil Monday morning at the location of the future front steps the new museum – much closer to Broadway Street.

With the turn of their shining shovels, the second phase of the Witte’s $100 million renovation and expansion officially began.

Get an in-depth look at what the impressive new Witte will look like here: ‘New Witte Museum’ Opens its Arms to Broadway.

The main building of the Witte Building is closed, but the H-E-B Body Adventure, South Texas Heritage Center, and Research and Collections Center will remain open during Phase II construction. This phase will be complete in 2017 and a third phase will begin shortly after, which will consist of water and energy exploration center.

A side view of the new Witte Museum entrance and landscaping. Rendering courtesy of Lake/Flato Architects.
A side view of the new Witte Museum entrance and landscaping. Rendering courtesy of Lake/Flato Architects.

Their shovels also “unearthed” a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex, “Kojo,” who emerged from a nearby tent to roar and pose for photos with attendees. The man in the blinking, realistic dinosaur suit playfully nuzzled Mayor Ivy Taylor and bit Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff’s arm. It was a light, fun way to start the work week, but the take-away message from the ceremony was serious: the new Witte will bring deeper educational and cultural understanding to even more San Antonians and visitors and have an economic impact that will substantially add to Broadway’s cultural corridor – or Broadway Reach, as it has been called.

“We want the corridor to be all it can be,” said Witte President and CEO Marise McDermott. “(The expansion) will make us a top-tier museum.”

McDermott was joined by her cohorts from other center city cultural institutions including the Do Seum, San Antonio Museum of Art, the McNay Art Museum, the Briscoe Western Art Museum, and more.

The Witte’s capital campaign is “an example of a successful public-private partnership,” said City Manager Sheryl Sculley. A majority of funding has come from corporations like Valero and H-E-B as well as donors like the Zachry, McLean, and Mays Family Foundation at about a 3:1 ratio with funding from the City.

“The Witte continues to demonstrate its intent to serve our entire community,” Mayor Taylor said. From dinosaur footprints to the human intestinal tract, the Witte has lessons to share with visitors of all ages – bringing history into the future of community health and wellness.

“It’s a truly remarkable story, the development of human beings and what we’ve had to live through,” Judge Wolff said. “You’re going to hear some of that story with the Mayan exhibit that’s going to be here, with the Ice Age exhibit that’s going to be here, and then (again) … through the San Antonio River.

“Bexar County has invested something like $200 million dollars in the San Antonio River, stretching it all the way from Mission Espada right down here to Brackenridge Park and we’re pleased to be helping in the funding for the Acequia Madre and the diversion dam,” he continued. “We’re so pleased that the museum is focusing programs and exhibitions on the river as we bookend (river improvements) from the north all the way down to Espada.”

*Featured/top image: (From left) Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, Mayor Ivy Taylor, Witte President and CEO Marise McDermott, “Kojo,” and Witte capital campaign co-chair Samuel Dawson.  Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Related Stories:

‘New Witte Museum’ Opens its Arms to Broadway

Something Monday: ‘Relax to Win’ at The Witte Museum

Witte Museum Dives Deep into Community Health with Body Adventure

 The Feed: Innovation and Wellness at the Witte

Open Letter: Children at Risk at Broadway Intersection

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org