George P. Bush Announces New Bowie Exhibit at the Alamo: First-in-Texas technology lets visitors touch Texas history

Contact: Brittany Eck
(512) 463-5708
brittany.eck@glo.texas.gov
PDF Version
PRESS RELEASE — May 02, 2017

SAN ANTONIO - The Texas General Land Office (GLO) and the Alamo proudly announce the launch of a new interactive exhibit,  Bowie: Man - Knife - Legend . The exhibit explores the life and times of Alamo defender James Bowie, and also examines the impact that his famous knife had on Texas and the frontier. The exhibit will open in the newly refurbished Alamo Annex on Saturday, March 4, with an official kick-off event later in the month. The exhibit will run through 2017.  Bowie features new digital technology that has never been used in a museum exhibit in the state of Texas before: translucent video touch screen displays.

"When Texans elected me land commissioner, I set out on a mission to transform the state's oldest agency into its most modern," said Commissioner George P. Bush. "That means bringing new technologies into every aspect of Land Office operations when appropriate, including the Alamo. This new display technology allows visitors to touch Texas history in a sense, by allowing them to interact with priceless artifacts to learn more about them, while keeping those artifacts completely safe for future generations and historians. It's a game-changer."

Translucent touch screen technology is just emerging on the market after years in development. It puts interactive video and text on glass overlaid onto artifacts, such as the famous Searles Bowie knife in this new exhibit. Through this emerging technology, visitors gain a much richer experience than with traditional museum display cases. Other knives in the exhibit include what many historians believe to have been the first ever Bowie knife, and a Bowie knife that belonged to a member of a famous Civil War unit.

"The Alamo deserves the very best that we can give it," Commissioner Bush continued. "This exhibit brings together an iconic Alamo defender, Jim Bowie, his namesake knife which was a technological advance in its day, and a new technology that puts these amazing artifacts on display for the world to enjoy and study. As a Texan and a former history teacher, I'm excited to see this new exhibit on Texas' timeless story of heroism, sacrifice, and liberty."

Jim Bowie moved to Texas with his older brother, Rezin, in 1830. At the time he became a Texan, Bowie was already famous for having defeated an attacker with his knife in the Vidalia Sandbar Fight in 1827. One of the first American celebrities, Bowie's presence at the Alamo in 1836 helped elevate the battle's strategic and historic importance. Along with Lt. Col. William Barret Travis and David Crockett, Bowie led the garrison of Texians and Tejanos that defended the mission fortress until illness struck him shortly before the battle on March 6, 1836. The Bowie knife became one of the most sought-after weapons and hunting tools of the 19th century and still influences our culture today, in hunting, movies and video games.

The General Land Office was founded when Texas was a Republic in 1836. The Texas Legislature and then-Gov. Rick Perry made the GLO the custodians of the Alamo in 2011. Since that time, the GLO and the Alamo have collaborated on exhibits on William B. Travis' famous letter, firearms of the frontier and the restoration of a famous painting of Texas revolution hero Ben Milam. Bowie: Man - Knife - Legend is the third such collaboration between the General Land Office and the Alamo. It is the first to make extensive use of digital technology.

The GLO, Alamo, city of San Antonio and Alamo Endowment Board are also collaborating on a master plan to preserve the Alamo and reimagine and transform it into the destination that it has always deserved to be.

 

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