The Bryan Museum in Galveston, Texas is home to one of the largest collections of artwork and artifacts relating to Texas and the American West in the world. The museum presents a history of Texas in chronological order with emphasis on Spanish Colonial influences. The Bryan Museum is home to The Bryan Collection which was begun by J.P. Bryan when he was just 10 years old with the purchase of a Moore’s Revolver and a Derringer.
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Bryan’s father, J.P Senior was a prolific collectors of Texas maps and documents which he sold in 1966 to the University of Texas. Bryan began amassing a collection of rare books soon after and acquired Judge Lewis Wilson’s collection of Texas literature. The collections expanded quickly with the addition of fine arts with a focus on Texas and American West art. By 2011, the collection took up 25,000 square feet of office space at the Torch Energy Advisors Inc and was called “The Torch Collection.”
The former Galveston Orphans Home was purchased in 2013 and restoration commenced to make the historic structure suitable for housing the collection that Bryan had amassed. The Bryan Museum was opened to the public in the summer of 2015 with 20,000 feet of exhibit space presenting the chronological history of the American West and Texas in permanent galleries.
The permanent exhibitions at The Bryan Museum educate visitors on the history of Texas and the West through chronological exhibits. There are also special and temporary exhibitions on a rotating schedule. More details on temporary exhibits can be found on The Bryan Museum website.
Orientation-This small gallery welcomes guests into the Bryan and tells the pre-Columbian through Mexican Revolution history of the American West. The central case features a video that interacts with JP Bryan. Other cases represent the history of Galveston, the fire of 1885, Texas colonization and the Galveston Orphans Home.
Spanish Colonial Era- This gallery spans thousands of years of the Spanish Colonial Era and features Native American and French influences as well as the Spanish influence on Texas and the West. The Spanish Mission System is featured in this exhibit.
Texas Frontier- Anglo-American influence over the West is featured in this exhibit that explores Mexico’s governing rule over Texas and history of American Statehood that was the Spanish-American War. Artifacts in this gallery are from 19th century.
Statehood and Beyond- American slavery and the Civil War is explored in this gallery that also how Texas moved away from slavery and developed the cowboys. This exhibit shows the Wild West during the late 19th century, Confederate Texas, Siege of Galveston and cattle ranching.
Rest of the West- This collection lines the hallway and staircases and features artwork from New Mexico and California, the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains. The gun display showcases some of the best and most rare guns that have ever been made and features weapons that were popular amongst cowboys, outlaws, and lawmen.
Texas Masters- Artists that are born in Texas or have left an impression on Texas are featured in this gallery that includes work from Jose Arpea y Perea, Robert Onderdonk and others. Mediums include oil paintings, sculptures, pastels, and illustrations.
Galveston Orphans Home-Paying homage to the historic landmark that houses The Bryan Museum, this gallery commemorates past and restoration of the Orphanage. A children’s hideout that was discovered during renovations can be explored in the staircase and view treasures found hidden in the walls and attic of the home.
Regular tours of the museum are available to visitors with museum admission and do not require advance registration. Volunteers are on hand to guide visitors through the galleries on weekends during 1.5-hour tours. Self-guided tours are always encouraged with visitors free to take as much time as they need to explore the galleries.
Group Tours- Adults may preschedule private tours for 10-50 guests to be guided through museum exhibits. Tours take a minimum of two hours. Group tour include discounts in the museum shop. Youth tours are also available and can be customized to grade level or curriculum. Tours can be requested online.
There are many special events that make The Bryan a great resource for the community.
Wine in the Bryan Gardens- Every Thursday adult guests can enjoy live entertainment and adult beverages in the evening while touring the conservatory and botanical gardens behind The Bryan Museum.
Speaker Series- Lecture series are presented at The Bryan by art professionals. These talks feature special guests with more details being found online. RSVPs are encouraged.
An Evening at The Bryan- An annual fundraising gala held at and to benefit The Bryan Museum.
1315 21st Street, Galveston, Texas, 77550, Phone: 409-632-7685