Walker Education Center features new exhibits

Beginning last Friday, the Walker Education Center is featuring two new historical exhibits.Both exhibits will deal with events and documents that affected the migration into Texas and America up to the mid-19th century. The first is entitled “Invasion Yanqui” and concerns the Mexican-American War of 1846. The exhibit hopes to shed light on what some have called a forgotten war.The exhibit was created by the Texas Humanities Resource Center along with the Jenkins Garrett Mexican War Collection and consists of 26 panels with text in both English and Spanish.The panels include illustrations and portraits of prominent people involved in the campaign, pictures of weapons used in the war and paintings of soldiers, both American and Mexican, killed in battle.One piece of historical information mentioned on the panel concerns the Marine attack on Chapultepec Castle. It says the battle inspired the line “From the halls of Montezuma” in the Marine Hymn.Museum curator Dave Wight said the war was important for preparing soldiers for future military battles.”It was a training ground for most of the generals that fought in the Civil War,” Wight said.Soldiers such as Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant first gained combat experience during this war.The Mexican-American War began due to the belief in “manifest destiny,” a contemporary belief that America was destined to be a nation that extended from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.Historical Interpreter Richard Rice believes it is important that students learn about the Mexican-American War and this era in American history.”I think students should understand this is one of the things that is important in our relationship with Mexico,” Rice said.Rice also added while the war may not be well known in most of America, “it is not unforgotten in Mexico.”The second exhibit, “Crossroads of Empire,” is a collection of photo panels showcasing the early printed maps of Texas and the Southwest.The exhibit, which is owned by the Amon Carter Museum, consists of seven two-sided panels that span the creation of major maps of the region from 1550 to 1854.One panel illustrates that California was thought to be an island for more than a century. Another shows how cartographers would often plagiarize each other’s maps, altering them slightly and making the terrain look inaccurate.Wight said mapmaking at that point was dependant on mapmakers constantly taking existing maps and altering them as new information became available. They believed while their maps were inaccurate, it was necessary to print them so future cartographers could improve on them.”If they had never gotten to that point, they never would have gotten past that point,” Wight said.While “Crossroads of Empire” shows how knowledge of mapping the new world increased as centuries progressed, as late as 150 years ago most maps of America were still not fully accurate.”The major thing that maps do is give you a concept of the world in the peoples time,” Rice said.Wight said the maps are key to understanding the way earlier Americans understood their world.”These maps show what people thought it was like back then more accurately than maps do today,” Wight said.According to Wight, he chose these two exhibits because of their relation to Texas and its history.”A large part of my job is searching for exhibits that are pertinent to Sam Houston and his times,” Wight said.The Walker Education Center is located at 1402 19th St. “Invasion Yanqui” and “Crossroads of Empire” will both be showcased in Room 205, the “Exhibit Gallery,” until March 15.

Leave a Reply