Need to knows:
Stroller or sling? Recommended stroller
Baby friendly restrooms? Yes
Parking validation? Nope — they have a parking garage which is $10/day
The Bullock Museum is the official state history museum, and it’s a beaut. It’s in a fancy building downtown which includes three floors of history, two theaters which show Texas movies, and a rotating exhibit space on the ground floor. It’s a great day out for the baby and your bougie self.
They have a parking garage underneath, but it costs $10 a day and they don’t validate. Boooo, right? Another option is the Brazos garage, which is on the UT campus, and that’s a less than 10 minute walk and similar rates. There’s quite a bit of construction around there for the nearby Blanton Museum, but it’s still easy to navigate with the stroller. There’s a large ramp leading up from the sidewalk into the Bullock museum and elevators inside, so definitely bring the stroller.
Once inside there’s a ticket window, or you can also buy online (linked below). Currently they have timed entry for exhibits during Covid times, but it’s also easy to social distance in the vast space.
Right now they have a guitar exhibit which is really fun and interesting, and it mostly includes the different versions of guitars encased in glass with a little placard explaining the history. There are a few videos of live performances, so if the baby is trying to sleep it’s probably best to save that exhibit for last.
The ground floor of the museum is currently the Becoming Texas exhibition, which tells the history of Texas up until Mexican independence in 1821. There’s even the remains of an old French ship among the 700 artefacts. It’s very interesting and your to-be-expected calm museum ambience.
The second and third floors goes from 1821-1936, and then 1936 to present day. On the second floor, you’ll find two acclaimed sculptures — Sam Houston by Elisabet Ney and the original Goddess of Liberty from the Texas State Capitol. There’s plenty of spots to duck aside and breastfeed if you’re in that game. They have some benches on the second floor that are perfect for it, so if your little one is having a meltdown that’s definitely the place in which to escape. There’s also baby changing tables in the restrooms.
There’s a lot of interesting history around the Texas involvement in the space program, the oil and gas industry, ranching — everything you’d associate with Texas, really. The fascinating stuff is the candid truth about racial tensions and the long fight for civil rights in Texas and in the broader US. There’s a no-holds-barred approach to diving into Texas’ involvement in the confederacy, the history of Jim Crow, the rise of the KKK, the NAACP, etc.
It’s an honest and eye-opening account of racial inequality, and it’s meticulously documented. The attempted erasure is also documented — they show the history of a play that glorified slavery and an old park sign that erased the word “colored.” They also label the KKK film “The Birth of a Nation” as white supremacy and and its attempts to incite racial violence.
To a lesser extent they profile other marginalized communities and their struggle for equal rights — they show the establishment of Austin’s Pride week and the first women’s conference in Houston — but the truly amazing part of the museum is the truth around racial inequality. Definitely get there to check it out — buy tickets on their site.