News Archive 2016

The Bryan Museum Hosts Closing Party for East-West Center

December 7, 2016

On November 30, 2016, the East-West Center hosted a closing party at The Bryan Museum for the Galveston portion of the U.S-Japan Grassroots Exchange Program. The East-West Center, an internationally recognized nonprofit institution located in Honolulu, Hawaii, organized the program to promote citizen participation in post-disaster community-building to share experiences, challenges, and lessons learned.

The three-year program is an effort to connect Galveston, New Orleans, Kobe, Japan, and Miyako, Japan, all cities that have suffered massive natural disasters over the last twenty years. The Galveston delegation hosted five guests each from New Orleans, Kobe, and Miyako.

The evening began with a tour of The Bryan Museum, followed by a visit to the Museum Shop and dinner in the Conservatory. J.P. Bryan, founder of the Museum, offered insight into the shared trials and triumphs each community has experienced as part of the effort to rebuild after a major disaster. The celebration ended with most of the attendees line-dancing to "Boot Scootin' Boogie," led by Gina Spagnola, President of the Galveston Chamber of Commerce.

'An Evening at The Bryan' C'brated All That's Good on Isle

December 3, 2016
By Frances Powell
Source: The Daily News
Photo: Ryan R. Jones Photography

On Sept. 10, The Bryan Museum celebrated their inaugural fundraiser, An Evening at The Bryan. This will be an annual event hosted by the museum, and they are already planning for next year!

[Read article]

Porch Rocking With Santa

December 1, 2016

The Bryan Museum hosted its first-ever Porch Rocking with Santa, featuring Santa himself, to benefit the Galveston Police Department's Blue Santa program. The event was held Saturday, November 26, from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m., on the front porch of the Museum.

Guests were greeted with hot cocoa and cookies, and the chance to have their photo taken with Santa Claus. Pictures with Santa were $5.00 each or free for families who brought a new toy to donate. Both toy and dollar donations were given to the Galveston P.D. for their Blue Santa program, which provides Christmas gifts to local children in need.

The event was well-attended and such a success that we are planning to make it an annual holiday tradition!

Dramatic Reading from The Notebook of Nancy Lea

November 8, 2016

The Tom Lea Institute Board of Directors gathered November 1, 2016 at The Bryan Museum to celebrate the life, artistic, and literary accomplishments of Tom Lea's first wife, Nancy Taylor Lea (1906-1936). Members of The Bryan Museum were also in attendance.

Adair Margo, Founder and President of the Tom Lea Institute, provided a summary of the evening:

"The Tom Lea Institute held its fall 2016 board meeting in Galveston on November 1-2 with a special reception at The Bryan Museum the evening of November 1. Sponsored by Thompson & Knight of Houston, the evening was opened by Tom Lea Institute Chairman Micki Costello of Fredericksburg, Virginia, and it featured a dramatic reading from The Notebook of Nancy Lea by award-winning actress Morgana Shaw. Ms. Shaw, who stars in the television series "Salem," looked so strikingly similar to the photographs in The Bryan Museum's Nancy Lea Collection that guests commented it was as if the beautiful Nancy—eighty years since her death—had physically entered the room. Bryan Museum founder J.P. Bryan closed the evening with an insightful presentation.

"The event was held to commemorate the life of Nancy Lea, an aspiring writer and Tom Lea's first wife, who died at age twenty-nine in 1936. She left behind unfinished works of fiction and dated journal entries that her husband published in a private edition of twenty-five copies as a remembrance of her for her friends. The Bryan Museum owns two of the original copies of The Notebook of Nancy Lea and the collection of her other writings and illustrations. Curator Nathan Jones selected a few of these items to put on display for the reception. Viewing Nancy's own handwriting and delicate watercolors, and hearing J.P. Bryan speak about Tom and Nancy Lea's lives in Santa Fe before Nancy's death, contributed to an unforgettable evening. Board member David Dunham of Texas Monthly said it was a time 'when good company, good food, and great performances conspired together to create magic.' At the suggestion of J.P. Bryan, the Tom Lea Institute is releasing a special new edition of The Notebook of Nancy Lea numbering twenty-five copies in December 2016."

The Bryan Museum Welcomes Nathan Jones as New Chief Curator

October 18, 2016

The Bryan Museum is pleased to welcome Nathan Jones as chief curator. Jones will oversee The Bryan Collection and rotating special exhibits.

"The Bryan Museum is dedicated to the preservation of the cultural and artistic heritage of the American West. With such a vast and unique collection, we are tasked with the immense responsibility of safeguarding and presenting to the public this incredible trove of historical artifacts, documents, and fine art," said Jamie Christy, director of The Bryan Museum. "We know that the steward of The Bryan Collection needs to be a consummate curatorial professional, with a keen understanding of conservation and a passion for educating the community. We have found the perfect match with Nathan and are pleased to welcome him to our team and to the Galveston community."

Jones earned his Bachelor and Master of Arts in history with specialization in public history from Texas State University. He served as curatorial fellow at the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, a museum dedicated to American decorative arts, paintings, and furniture. In addition, he held positions at the Henry Ford Museum, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts Summer Institute, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, Museum of Texas Handmade Furniture, and Houston Maritime Museum.

Jones will initially be working to document and digitize the entire collection to help future researchers. In addition, expect new community-led exhibitions, an increased focus on learning and education, and additions to the permanent collection. The first of The Bryan Museum's new 2017 temporary exhibitions will include a partnership with the University of Texas Medical Branch's Institute for the Medical Humanities.

Wine in The Bryan Gardens

October 6, 2016

Starting today, The Bryan Museum is announcing a new event called "Wine in The Bryan Gardens," to be held on the first Thursday of every month from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (weather permitting).

The public is invited to join us in our beautiful botanical gardens to relax and enjoy time and conversation with friends, family, and Museum staff. Wine, beer, and complimentary bar snacks will be served in the Sculpture Garden next to the Museum Shop. During the event, the Museum Shop will also be open so that you can browse our selection of unique gifts for the upcoming holiday season.

Please enter from our Guest Parking lot at the rear of the building. We look forward to seeing you there!

The Bryan Museum receives John L. Nau, III Award of Excellence in Museums

September 9, 2016

The 2015 John L. Nau, III Award of Excellence in Museums was presented to The Bryan Museum by the Texas Historical Commission (THC) at the first annual An Evening at The Bryan benefit.

Established in 1952 by the Texas State Legislature, the THC is a state agency for historic preservation working to "save the real places that tell the real stories of Texas." The award, named after John L. Nau, III, chair of the THC, was bestowed upon The Bryan Museum for preserving and promoting the history and art of the American West, the heritage of Galveston, and the rich treasures of the state of Texas.

"We are honored to be chosen as the recipient of the 2015 John L. Nau, III Award of Excellence in Museums," said Dr. Jamie Christy, director of The Bryan Museum. "As a young museum, we are thrilled to be acknowledged with such a distinguished award and inspired to move forward our mission to preserve the history of the American West and present it in an engaging and educational way for our community."

An Evening at The Bryan

September 8, 2016

The Bryan Museum has some exciting news! On Saturday, September 10, 2016, we held our inaugural fundraiser, An Evening at The Bryan. Going forward, this will be a yearly event hosted by the Museum.

The theme of this year's An Evening at The Bryan was the resilience demonstrated by Galveston following the Storm of 1900 and Hurricane Ike in 2008.

The event kicked off with online, silent, and live auctions (with Museum founder J.P. Bryan serving as auctioneer), cocktails, dinner, and an intimate concert by Texas's singing/​songwriting genius Lyle Lovett. Talented musicians Warren Hood, John Hagen, Viktor Krauss, and James Gilmer proved to be the perfect accompaniment to Lovett. Guests enjoyed a fabulous dinner prepared by Galveston's own Chopin Mon Ami Catering and Fort Worth's Grady Spears, the "Cowboy Chef" discovered at the historic Gage Hotel in Marathon, Texas some twenty years ago. Following dinner, The Bryan Museum was presented with the John L. Nau, III Award of Excellence in Museums by the Texas Historical Commission.

Many thanks to our wonderful volunteers and docents who helped make An Evening at The Bryan such a success. Proceeds from the event will create a new interactive for The Bryan Museum's Children's Center.

The Bryan Museum Connects Devotion With Spanish Colonial World

August 2, 2016
By Robert Stanton, Correspondent
Source: The Daily News
Photo: Jennifer Reynolds, The Daily News

The Bryan Museum recently opened two exhibits that explore the Spanish Colonial world and powerful images of devotion in Catholic heritage.

[Read article]

Texas Stars
J.P. Bryan: Oilman revives beloved island building and shares vast collection of American West history

July 30, 2016
By Coast Staff
Source: Coast Monthly
Cover Photo: Stuart Villanueva

You might think of a Texas oilman as steely-eyed, shrewd, independent and outspoken. J.P. Bryan, a member of the Texas oil elite, is all of those things and more.

[Read article]
New Plaque Memorializes Galveston Orphans Home

July 28, 2016

On Wednesday, July 27, 2016, at 5:30 p.m., a new state historic marker for the Galveston Orphans Home was unveiled to a small gathering. The marker recounts the history of the Galveston Orphans Home building and organization.

The orphanage was originally located in a wooden structure on the property, beginning in the early 1880s. When philanthropist Henry Rosenberg died in 1893, he bequeathed $30,000 for the construction of a permanent orphanage building. Galveston architect Alfred Muller completed the 1895 Galveston Orphans Home, which is located on the footprint of the current structure, in brick and in the Gothic Revival Style. When the 1900 Hurricane severely damaged the orphanage, William Randolph Hearst held a charity event in New York City, at which $50,000 was raised to rebuild the structure. Architect George B. Stowe designed the 1902 Galveston Orphans Home in the Renaissance Revival Style, and this is the building that still stands today.

The application for the new historic marker was filed through the Galveston County Historical Commission, and the plaque text was written and authorized by the Texas Historical Commission’s historic marker program. An existing marker on the property presents the history of George Dealey, who was integral to the founding of the organization that later became the Galveston Orphans Home. While the structure was registered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, the marker unveiled on July 27th is the first to honor, preserve, and promote the history of the Galveston Orphans Home.

The Galveston Orphans Home, which now houses The Bryan Museum, ceased operating as an orphanage in 1984. The building served as a private residence for a short time and then sat vacant for several years. The Bryan Texana Foundation purchased the Galveston Orphans Home in October 2013 and immediately began a historic restoration of the building and grounds. The Bryan Museum opened in June 2015 and recently celebrated its first anniversary.

The Bryan Museum Celebrates First Anniversary

June 20, 2016

The Bryan Museum first opened its doors to friends and Galveston residents on June 12, 2015, and June 19th was the first day of regular business.

Since opening, the Museum has attracted more than 20,000 visitors, gained nearly 600 members, and won seven awards, including the City of Galveston Landmark Commission's 2015 Rehabilitation Award, the Galveston Historical Foundation's 2015 "Sally B. Wallace Award for Historic Preservation," the Christie Mitchell 2015 "Beachcomber Award," and the prestigious Texas Historical Commission's 2016 "John L. Nau, III Award of Excellence in Museums."

On Friday, June 17, 2016, The Bryan Museum celebrated its first anniversary by unveiling two new special exhibits: La Cruz Blanca (The White Cross): Leonor Villegas de Magnón and Visual Prayers: Spanish Colonial Religious Art. Approximately 200 Museum members attended the event, which featured hors d’oeuvres, margaritas, and a mariachi band, which provided live music. Museum founder J.P. Bryan, Director Dr. Jamie Christy, and Curator Andrew R. Gustafson all addressed the gathered crowd. Mary Nugent, great-granddaughter of Leonor Magnón, was introduced and delivered remarks about her great-grandmother's experiences during the Mexican Revolution, after which the exhibits were officially opened to the guests.

La Cruz Blanca (The White Cross): Leonor Villegas de Magnón explores the role of women in the Mexican Revolution. The exhibit follows the history of Leonor Villegas de Magnón, the founder of La Cruz Blanca, a volunteer medical brigade established in Laredo, Texas in 1913. The exhibit features over one hundred documents, photographs, artifacts, and pieces of art, including a watercolor by well-known Mexican artist Diego Rivera. More than a half-dozen archives, museums, and private collections loaned materials for the exhibit, including The University of Houston Libraries Special Collection, the El Paso Museum of History, the El Paso Museum of Art, the Texas Medical Center Library's McGovern History Center, and the private collection of Che and Becky Guerra. The family of Leonor Smith, the granddaughter of Villegas de Magnón, also loaned many family photographs and documents for the exhibit. Smith and many members of her family attended the event.

Visual Prayers: Spanish Colonial Religious Art features over thirty selections of Catholic devotional art from The Bryan's own collection. Art was integral to Catholic missionaries' successful conversion of vast populations in the New World, and the images created as tools to help teach the Bible remain as powerful visually as they were several hundred years ago. Containing excellent examples of retablos (devotional art), ex-votos (visual prayers of thanksgiving), santos (statues of saints), and Marian images, the exhibit covers more than 300 years of Spanish and Mexican religious art history.

Both special exhibits remain on display through November 2016. The cost is $8 for the exhibit only or admission to the special exhibit can be purchased in conjunction with the price of general admission to the Museum. Discounted special exhibit tickets, priced at $6, will be available on Saturdays. Please call (409) 632-7685 for more information.

Riding the Rails: Heritage Sites Illuminate Railway Significance

May 14, 2016
By Marsha Canright, Correspondent
Source: The Daily News
Photo: Jennifer Reynolds, The Daily News file photo

It was 144 years ago this May that a group of Galveston luminaries founded the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad.

[Read article]

The Bryan Museum: History in History

March 30, 2016
By Houston History Magazine
Source: Houston History
Photo: The Bryan Museum

J.P. Bryan has spent a lifetime amassing the finest privately held collection of Texana and materials related to the settlement of the western United States.

[Read article]

Spend Day in Old West at Galveston's Bryan Museum

February 19, 2016
By Erin Graham
Source: Houston Chronicle
Photo: The Bryan Museum

When you step into the Bryan Museum, after climbing the red staircase that rises from 21st Street in Galveston, a sensation of colliding cultures sets in.

[Read article]

The Bryan Museum Wins "Best Museum" of 2015

January 3, 2016

After weeks of nominations and tens of thousands of votes, we at are thrilled to present the Winners of the 2015 BEST OF GALVESTON AWARDS, "the Oscars of the Gulf Coast" according to The Houston Chronicle.

[Read article]

History Takes a Holiday

January 2016
By Dana Joseph
Source: Cowboys & Indians
Photo: The Bryan Museum

J.P. Bryan's quest to preserve the West ended fatefully—in the seaside town of Galveston, Texas, just down the shore from where his collecting obsession began.

[Read article]

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