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Fronteras: Museo del Westside works to preserve 'the heart of Mexican American history of San Antonio'

The historic near-West Side of San Antonio is one of the city’s oldest and culturally rich neighborhoods. Murals and decorative tile mosaics dot the area. Blown-up old black and white images of the West Side’s past residents line Guadalupe Street.

A neighborhood often overlooked and underfunded, the significance of the area’s history could easily be lost. But a new community museum has found a way to capture the unique stories and culture of the historic West Side.

Museo del Westside will gather and display photos, stories, and artifacts that otherwise may have been lost to time or indifference.

Graciela Sánchez is the director of the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, a grassroots San Antonio organization dedicated to research, preservation, and cultural programming. The museo is a project of the Esperanza. It will be housed in what used to be Ruben’s Ice House, a yellow building at what’s known as the Rinconcito de Esperanza at the corner of Colorado and Guadalupe streets.

Sánchez said community participation is vital to keeping the stories alive.

“It's a participatory museum,” she said. “They may not have a PhD behind their name, but they have a lot of experience and knowledge that you can't find in books right now, that you can't find in documentaries because they're not made. So we have to be the ones that create them.”

Antonia Padilla
Graciela Sanchez speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for Museo del Westside on 3/29/22 with Mariachi de Esperanza behind her.

To contribute your history to the Museo del Westside, visit the Esperanza’s website or call (210)228-0201.

The Esperanza Peace & Justice Center will hold the two-day “Westside San Antonio: Taking it Public” conference in collaboration with St. Mary’s University’s Public History Graduate Program.

WHAT: Westside San Antonio: Taking it Public Conference
WHEN: April 8-9
WHERE: St. Mary's University (April 8), Esperanza Peace & Justice Center (April 9)

Westside San Antonio: Taking it Public Conference 2022: Taking it Public
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Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Marian Navarro produces for Texas Public Radio's Morning Edition and Fronteras.