Walking up to The Bryan Museum in Galveston, TX you will find a beautiful oasis full of century oaks, their branches loaded with ferns that instantly transport you to a time far away. In the middle of the yard stands a glass conservatory, glowing in the same green color as the ferns and surrounding landscaping. It makes you want to gather your skirts, open your parasol and explore. Chances are that you don’t have a parasol or layers of petticoats but don’t worry, step inside the building that once served as one of Galveston’s orphanages and you’ll be on your own magic carpet ride through the history of Texas.
The Bryan Museum is now located in the building that used to be The Galveston’s Orphan Home. Built in 1895 and serving as an orphanage until the early 1980’s, the home has seen the best and worst years in the history of Galveston, including substantial damage from the hurricane in 1900 that leveled the island.
Now when you walk in the front door, you’ll find a refurbished building that still holds the original charm yet now steeped in Texas History.
Chances are that you might also find the owner, J.P. Bryan, and his dog, Chalk, sitting in the foyer or walking through the home.
The first floor of the home holds collections that tell the history of Texas. There’s an old mortar and pestle from long before Texas was settled, an impressive replica ship and items that tell about the early discovery of a land that would one day become known as Texas.
A short walk to another room teaches you about the German settlers that traveled to Texas and showcases a huge diorama of the one of the battles for Texas Independence.
The museum goes on to take you on a walk through the settlement of the west, filled with old saddles and items that you won’t find anywhere else, such as an Assassin’s Case that had a shotgun on one side and a metal violin filled with gun powder on the other.
Upstairs at The Bryan Museum, you’ll find an art gallery that includes prints from Andy Warhol’s Cowboys and Indians series.
The artworks featured in the upstairs gallery are all done by Texas Masters and show you the history of Texas from the perspective of some of the most respected artists from the Lone Star State.
Go down another flight of stairs into the basement of The Bryan Museum and you’ll find a hidden gem. There, a case holds items found from The Galveston Orphan’s Home that was found during the renovation of the building. Marbles, old spoons, a perfectly preserved tin toy along with other items show you life for kids at the turn of the century. Under the stairs is a little hole where the kids used to hide and use as a fort.
In that area you’ll also find an area that’s been transformed to a hidden grotto and undersea world for modern era kids to play and learn about the history of Galveston at the same time.
There’s something at The Bryan Museum for all ages. Without a doubt, you’ll come away from visiting the museum feeling like you want to do something historical so that perhaps one day you can be a part of this collection as well.