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Natural history museum funds new wing

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A $25,000 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority (LRCA) and Bandera Electric Cooperative (BEC) will help the Bandera Natural History Museum complete a New Spain art wing to showcase paintings, sculptures, pottery, furniture and other works created by artists working centuries ago in Spanish colonies.

Maggie Schumacher, museum director of operations, said the Community Development Partnership Program grant will pay for installing a stone exterior on the upcoming New Spain Art Hall, which will open next January.

The museum provided matching funds of more than $300,000 for the 4,000-square-foot addition.

“The grant will allow us to put up rock on the metal building so it will match the exterior of the existing museum,” Schumacher said. “It will approve the appear ance by 100 percent. I would say this grant allows us to finish the project correctly.”

The New Spain art collection was loaned to the museum by Juan Carlos Infante and his wife, Mary Vargas Infante, who establish the four-year-old museum. The wing will display more than 120 pieces that date from the 1600s to the early 1800s and will showcase antiques including Talavera pottery and ivory sculptures carved in Asia.

“Having a permanent collection of this caliber and magnitude that people from Bandera and surrounding counties can easily access will help them appreciate the early history of the Americas, when Texas and Mexico were under the rule of Spain,” Schumacher said.

“The Infantes love Bandera and they love the community. They really have a desire, too, to give back to the community, which is why they chose Bandera for the Natural History Museum and then again for their art collection.” The new wing also will include a model of an ocean-going Manila Galleon in its foyer, along with information describing the trade routes between New Spain and the Philippines and how the resulting art was influenced by the trade.

“As grand as our Manila Galleon is, it is not as important as the actual art pieces,” said Schumaker. “The ships are part of the story of how New Spain Art evolved and became its unique style of art.”

The museum includes replicas of dinosaurs on its grounds and provides visitors an opportunity to see a 50,000-year-old mammoth bone and study dioramas that represent six regions of the world and include corresponding flora and fauna.

The Bandera Natural History Museum is located at 267 Old San Antonio Rd. It is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 12 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The community grant is one of 27 grants awarded recently through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water and transmission service areas. The program is part

The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves. Bandera Electric Cooperative is one of LCRA’s wholesale electric customers and is a partner in the grant program.

Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in January. More information is available at