SAN ANTONIO— It’s time South Texas reclaimed the legendary story of this wild and vivid land, and the Witte Museum is doing just that with the grand opening of the Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg South Texas Heritage Center, Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 26, 2012. This untamed country was the birthplace of ranching empires that continue today and was the crucible from which emerged the American Cowboy from his Vaquero forbearers. This 20,000 square-foot, two-story building that incorporates the historic Pioneer Hall, serves as a permanent home for the Witte’s South Texas collections, exhibitions and public programs, combined with the latest museum technology, to trace the legendary history of South Texas.

The Witte’s South Texas collections are cherished links to our interwoven heritage and include saddles, spurs, basketry, branding irons, historical clothing, land grants, art and firearms. The South Texas Heritage Center provides immersive and engaging experiences of real-life stories of the men, women and children of South Texas. Hear the traveling narratives of Tejano Freighters and the historical narratives of Chili Queens, merchants, Texas Indians, Spanish settlers, trail drivers, ranchers and farmers. Encounter historic personas sharing the stories of vaqueros, cowboys, oilmen and women, gas industry leaders and the children who grew up on the land.

The main galleries of the new Center include exhibits on ranching, farming, San Antonio’s Main Plaza in the 1840s, the oil and gas industry, horse culture, life along the border and a gallery dedicated to the Witte’s seminal 19th and 20th century early Texas Art collection.

Additionally, the Witte’s ground-breaking 2006 exhibition, A Wild & Vivid Land:  Stories of South Texas, which attracted more than 100,000 visitors, has been enhanced and now takes its home in the South Texas Heritage Center. A Wild & Vivid Land revealed the relevance and real-life stories of South Texans in a new and compelling way—and proved that present-day visitors want to understand the past.

“Most people don’t know where they came from. And if you don’t know where you came from, I don’t know how you can set a course for where you’re going to go…It’s an important thing the Witte is doing to preserve the heritage of the families that developed and pioneered in South Texas,” said Mary West Traylor, South Texas rancher and Witte supporter.

Other Highlights of the South Texas Heritage Center include a grand two-story entry hall; classroom space for educational programs for students; an outdoor amphitheater; sculptures and much more.

The South Texas Heritage Center is included with museum general admission. For more information call 210.357.1910 or visit www.WitteMuseum.org.

*Note to Editors: For more information or to request high-resolution images contact Shannon H. Standley at 210.357.1876 or ShannonStandley@WitteMuseum.org.