UTSA to relocate Institute of Texan Cultures after 56 years as Hemisfair district continues to evolve

The relocation of the ITC also opens up speculation of a potential new Spurs or Missions arena in its place as the Hemisfair area continues to expand.

SAN ANTONIO — After nearly six decades of calling the Hemisfair district home, plans are in motion for a new location to house the Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC). The museum will shut down at Hemisfair in May. 

The University of Texas system, which manages the institute, formally announced its relocation to a temporary site in the heart of downtown as it works to “ensure the museum’s sustainability” and plan a permanent institute. 

ITC museum has been a gathering place for those who love Texas history, for students to learn about the state’s past and present, and for researchers to make new discoveries that advance the knowledge of what it means to be a Texan.

According to a press release from UTSA, the next steps include three strategic steps: relocating ITC to a temporary site, which the first floor of Frost Tower will provide for about five years; finalizing the location for a permanent home; and maximizing the land at UTSA’s Hemisfair Campus to support the future museum.

Since 1968, ITC has been located at Hemisfair’s Texas Pavilion, which, according to UTSA, “continues to face deteriorating facilities and costly repairs.” The university said they determined that relocating to a temporary home until a permanent museum can be constructed represents the best solution to preserving the its historic archives and exhibits.

The temporary Frost Tower location, officials said, is easily accessible to downtown visitors and “offers an engaging setting to host curated museum visits.” The institute is expected to start welcoming visitors there in early 2025.  

Prime real estate?

UTSA’s announcement likely reignites speculation of what might be done with the nearly 14 acres of land the institute currently occupies. In February, the UT Board of Regents approved giving the City of San Antonio the option to lease and/or sell the land, setting the stage for a potentially major change to the district. While any number of developments could come to the area, there’s a possibility the land ITC sits on could be the home of a future sports arena. 

Asked whether the city has made any decisions on what it might do with the land, Assistant City Manager Lori Houston provided the following statement: 

“The City’s interest in an option to purchase the Institute of Texas Cultures (ITC) stems from the proximity of this property to Hemisfair and the potential development and redevelopment opportunities in the area including expansion of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, a major renovation to the Alamodome, a land bridge over IH-37 reconnecting Hemisfair to the east side of San Antonio, plus other public private development opportunities as called for in the Hemisfair Master Plan.”

Meanwhile, Hemisfair is set to build what it’s calling the Red & Charline McCombs Community Court near the base of the Tower of Americas, providing the district with a covered basketball court and sports pavilion. The San Antonio Historic and Design Review Commission approved the proposed plans Wednesday. 

The project received funding from The McCombs Foundation and Spurs Give, and its design will incorporate elements paying homage to the Alamo City and the area’s “roots at Hemisfair.”

UTSA, meanwhile, continues to explore location options for the construction of a permanent museum. The university said it favors a location adjacent to the Crockett Hotel, with an alternate site being considered at the UTSA Southwest Campus.

The university envisions a new museum that will “showcase Texan cultures to a broader audience through engaging, community-oriented programming.”

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