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Can the Institute of Texan Cultures be saved from Project Marvel?

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Institute of Texan Cultures
Courtesy Vince Micheal
Institute of Texan Cultures

The Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC) was built to be the Texas Pavilion at HemisFair '68. Since the curtain fell on the local celebration of cultural confluences, the institute served for over 50 years as a cornerstone for educating the people of Texas about the rich diversity that built the state. However, the iconic building is expected to be bulldozed in the summer of 2025.

After HemisFair wrapped up in October 1968 the expectation was that the building and 96-acre property would be used for the creation of the University of Texas and San Antonio. And the city gifted the land to the UT system. UTSA was still in the early planning stages and wouldn’t be established until June 5, 1969. Instead, UTSA was built on a remote 600-acre site at what is now the intersection of Interstate 10 and Highway 1604. That at the time was farmland and barren limestone fields,

Last April UTSA, which oversees the ITC, announced the closure of its current facility. The Brutalist-style building, lauded for its architectural significance and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is slated for demolition. This decision sparked controversy, with preservation groups highlighting the building's cultural value.

The last day that that the ITC was open to the public was May 31, and UTSA has announced it will be temporarily moving the collection to Frost Tower.

The museum that occupied 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd. is being considered as a possible new location for a new Spurs arena and anchor a grand city of San Antonio redevelopment effort called Project Marvel.

In February, the UT board of regents conditionally approved a plan to lease or sell the ITC property to the city. The meeting agenda said the transaction was for a “potential downtown revitalization project.”

Along with the proposed new arena Project Marvel would include a re-imagined Alamodome, improvements to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and a new hotel.


Lewis Vetter is president of the Conservation Society of San Antonio.

Madison Iszler covers real estate, retail, economic development, and other business topics for the San Antonio Express-News.

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org.

This interview will be recorded on Tuesday, July 9, 2024.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi