In its ongoing process to decide the fate of the Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC), the University of Texas at San Antonio is seeking further public input on what it terms “three feasible scenarios.”
The scenarios are the culmination of a 16-month “visioning process” involving panels of experts, civic leaders and public outreach to envision a sustainable “museum of the future” for the 49-year old institution and its 54-year-old building. On Tuesday, UTSA released a 208-page report detailing its conclusions.
The three options have been in consideration throughout the process: keep the ITC where it is, move the ITC to a new building within Hemisfair, or relocate the ITC altogether from Hemisfair and its home in the aging Texas Pavilion.
The report offers the possibility of relocating the ITC outside of Hemisfair, though it does not specify potential locations. The report also includes recommendations from outside advisory group the Urban Land Institute for two potential sites for relocation within Hemisfair, near the Tower of the Americas or on the site of the former John H. Wood Jr. U.S. Courthouse, which relocated to a new building in January.
The ITC’s current home was built as the Texas State Exhibits Pavilion for the 1968 World’s Fair and was repurposed in 1973 as a university-based museum showcasing the myriad cultures that have shaped Texas.
A committee of civic leaders and experts delivered a report in November that outlined key issues with remaining in the current ITC building: a bill of $28 million in deferred maintenance and an estimated $2 million per year for ongoing maintenance; and that the facility in its current state “does not meet [the] American Association of Museums accreditation standard,” which limits the institution’s access to touring exhibitions, among other issues.
In an April conversation, UTSA Provost Kimberly Andrews Espy said that plans for the future of the ITC are being looked at holistically, with many issues in play including the museum’s accessibility and technology, its location and financial sustainability.
UTSA charged three main task forces with assessing these issues and delivering reports, to be added to what Espy called “gigantic outreach” to the UTSA-concerned community seeking input, and a February Urban Land Institute report that recommended retaining a UTSA presence in Hemisfair but separating the ITC from the pavilion.
UTSA now seeks one last infusion of public input on the three scenarios it proposes, with an online public survey and an in-person opportunity for input at the UTSA Westside Community Center.
The survey poses two simple questions for each scenario: “What resonates with you?” and “What would you add if unlimited resources were available?”
In a news release announcing the release of the culminating report and request for public input, Espy said, “Community input will help UTSA to secure a thriving future” and UTSA President Taylor Eighmy reiterated the university’s commitment to keeping the ITC viable.
“UTSA has been the proud steward of the ITC since 1973, and we are deeply committed to ensuring the ITC museum evolves and thrives to continue serving our city and state for generations to come,” Eighmy said.
The announcement did not specify the level of resources that would be devoted to the reimagined ITC, though it outlined the complexities involved in each of the three scenarios.
Should the decision be reached to keep the ITC in its current home, the scenario includes multiple possibilities up to and including “moving into a reimagined facility with significant modifications up to full replacement,” or employing a “distributed model” using multiple facilities to house the ITC’s collections, archives, and education and programming components.
Community input will be collected through July 12.