A construction site became a temporary stage Tuesday morning for officials celebrating the Witte Museum‘s future front door, the H-E-B Lantern entranceway where a life-sized Pterosaur model, nicknamed “Quetzy,” will hang from the ceiling to greet visitors.
The entranceway with its prehistoric greeting will serve as the $2 million gateway to the Witte’s $100 million expansion and renovation, which will increase the museum’s interior space by 100,000 sq. ft. when the project is completed in 2017. The new entranceway will reach closer to Broadway Street, connecting the museum to the stretch of Broadway from downtown to the outskirts of Alamo Heights that has become known as the “Broadway Cultural Corridor.”
The Quetzalcoatlus northropi, or the “Texas Pterosaur”, was discovered at Big Bend National Park in 1971 by a graduate student working at the University of Texas at Austin and is the largest known flying creature found in the prehistoric record with a wingspan of 40 feet.
During Tuesday’s festivities, members of the audience jumped up from their seats to form a human model of Quetzy. Participants wore matching tan T-shirts as they clapped, hollered, and waved triangular segments of nylon fabric that represented the Pterosaur’s wings.
Winell Herron, H-E-B group vice president of public affairs, presented the $2 million check to Witte Museum CEO and President Marise McDermott, while telling the audience that H-E-B is committed to the “infusion of creativity into education.”
“We are proud to be a very special part of history in the making with the new Witte Museum, a place that we know will spark inspiration in every visitor who steps through its doors, no matter their age,” Herron said.
She said the entranceway will “light the way for lifelong learning” and provide “unforgettable experiences” for those who visit the Witte Museum.
McDermott said Quetzy will hang in the entranceway with other, smaller Pterosaurs flying behind him. She said H-E-B has furthered the renaissance along the Broadway corridor by donating to cultural places like the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, The DoSeum, the San Antonio Botanical Garden and the San Antonio Zoo.
“H-E-B is such a visionary company and has a stake in the ground for health and wellness and education,” McDermott said.
H-E-B underwrote the costs for construction of the H-E-B Science Treehouse, which opened in 1997 and became the H-E-B Body Adventure in 2014, the first interactive health experience in the United States. H-E-B CEO Charles Butt made a personal donation of $20 million to The DoSeum.
Councilmember Alan Warrick (D2) said he came to the groundbreaking to show his gratitude as the city rebuilds “this Broadway corridor and makes this the decade of downtown.”
“I think it symbolizes San Antonio being a more urban city than a suburban city,” he said. “We are giving people reasons to come inside of 410 and inside of Hildebrand.”
He said the cultural destinations along Broadway Street give people who live outside of the downtown area a reason to visit the inner city.
“It is really giving us a more urban feel that allows us to be an urban city because we have these great world-class amenities in the downtown corridor,” Warrick said. “H-E-B is definitely doing their part and we want all of the other corporations to follow this lead in order to invest in our downtown communities and not have us so spread out.”
*Featured/top image: Winell Herron, H-E-B group vice president of public affairs, Councilmember Alan Warrick (D2), Marise McDermott, Witte Museum president and CEO, and Mark Metcalfe, Witte Museum Board of Trustees chair pose with the check from H-E-B. Photo by Joan Vinson.