Center for Texas Studies to spread flag knowledge


    True or False: Texas didn’t have an official state flag until 1936.


    By sponsoring a traveling exhibit, “Texas Flags: 1836-1945,” the Center for Texas Studies hopes to educate museum visitors on the state’s rich history, said Gene Smith, the center’s director.

    The tour starts Feb. 28 at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, continues to the El Paso Museum of Art, the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station and ends at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in December 2005.

    Smith said the center’s goal is to preserve, share and commemorate Texas history, and this tour, which consists of 30 historic flags related to Texas, accomplishes all three goals.

    “Texas has a rich and multi-cultural history,” Smith said. “You can see the flag African American troops carried, which isn’t an image you might think of when you think of Texas.”

    Heather Brand, the head of public relations at the museum in Austin, said minor adjustments on the exhibit are being made.

    “We are excited to be the first destination on the tour,” Brand said. “These flags represent diverse facets of Texas history, and it’s exciting that they’ll be displayed at the state capital.”

    One unique flag on display is the “Liberty” flag flown during the Texas Revolution by the Texas army at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836, Brand said. Another noteworthy flag is the one that flew on the Battleship Texas during the World War II D-Day invasion.

    TCU assembled the collection by rounding up flags from eight different museums and archives from Texas and other states.

    “We want to bring TCU’s name to the public,” Smith said. “There’s a certain degree of satisfaction in knowing that this little school up in Fort Worth is making a name for itself in the middle of Longhorn country and later in the middle of Aggie country.”

    The 7,000-square-foot exhibit premiered at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts in spring 2002, where more than 3,000 visitors stopped in to view the flags.

    Dennis Alexander, the director of foundation relations, said he wrote a proposal in October 2003 to ask for funding for the Center for Texas Studies to take over the exhibit and take it on the road.

    The $200,000 tour is funded by individual donors, Frost Bank, Heartland Alliance of America, TCU and the institutions that host the exhibit, Alexander said.

    This is the last time these flags will be assembled together because the light in the exhibits breaks down the textiles in the fabric, Smith said.