Institute of Texan Cultures presents range of holiday activities and exhibits

snow photo

Snow on Houston Street, San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 31, 1949. San Antonio Light Collection, Institute of Texan Cultures, L-3694-B. Courtesy of the Hearst Corp.

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(Nov. 18, 2009)--During the holiday season, the Institute of Texan Cultures will present two Pribyl family vintage nativity scenes, a 15-foot Christmas tree under the dome, the "Winter Scenes of Texas" photo exhibit, a Dec. 5 family day with holiday storytelling and the Alamo City Men's Chorale, and the first edition of an Institute of Texan Cultures holiday ornament. (See the institute's holiday hours schedule below.)

Two Pribyl family vintage nativity scenes will be on display through Jan. 3. Painted in the 1890s, the dioramas measure between eight and 18 feet long. They feature the Bethlehem stable against a backdrop of an Austrian village with several characters painted in meticulous detail.

A 15-foot English Fir Christmas tree will be under the dome featuring 4,550 star-shaped LED lights and hundreds of ornaments, and the entrance to the main exhibit floor will be livened with a seasonal "Winter Scenes of Texas" photo exhibit. The display features more than 30 historic photos from the institute's archives. Reaching back to the 1890s and through the 1980s, the exhibit showcases snowscapes from San Antonio, Fredericksburg, Granger, Corpus Christi, Victoria, Floresville and other Texas towns. Smaller versions of the photographs are for sale at the museum store.

For the first time, the institute will issue its own holiday ornament. A three-dimensional miniature diorama, the ornament shows the iconic flagpole plaza with flags painted in enamel. The bridge over the Confluence Fountain leads back to the distinct inverted pyramid of the institute's main building. A garland of green and red enamel holly leaves and berries frames the scene with "Institute of Texan Cultures" on the top scroll and "San Antonio, Texas" at the bottom. The ornament can be purchased at the museum store for $18.95 and will be in stock Dec. 4. Additionally, the museum store sells a selection of Texas keepsakes, books and handmade and fair-trade gifts.

On Dec. 5, the institute will host "Family Holiday Celebration" featuring performances by the Alamo City Men's Chorale, storytelling of holiday season tales and traditions, and children's arts and crafts activities. The celebration will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The new year will see several new exhibits including the "Da Dun Fine Arts Festival of Taichung City," Jan. 16-Feb. 28, a cultural exchange showcasing the best artworks of China and Taiwan including sculpture, digital art, photography, water color painting and more; and "Race: Are We So Different?" Jan. 23-May 16, which explores the science, history and everyday impact of race perceptions.

The Institute of Texan Cultures is on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus, 801 E. Durango Blvd., a short distance from the Alamo and the River Walk. Admission is $8 for adults (ages 12-64); $7 for seniors (ages 65+); $6 for children (ages 3-11); free with membership, UTSA or Alamo Colleges identification.

The 182,000-square-foot complex features 65,000 square feet of interactive exhibits and displays that tell the stories of Texans. The institute also develops resources for educators and lifelong learners on topics of cultural heritage. For more information, call 210-458-2300 or visit the Institute of Texan Cultures Web site.

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Institute of Texan Cultures holiday hours

Nov. 26, Thanksgiving Day -- closed
Nov. 27, day after Thanksgiving -- 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Dec. 5, Family Day -- 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (activities end at 4 p.m.)
Dec. 24, Christmas Eve -- 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Dec. 25, Christmas Day -- closed
Dec. 26-30 -- 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Dec. 30, New Year's Eve -- 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Jan. 1, New Year's Day -- closed