Many visitors to the Morris Cultural Arts Center are amazed at the treasures they find in the Museum of American Architecture and Decorative Arts and the Museum of Southern History.
The Museum of American Architecture and Decorative Arts had its beginnings just a few years after the founding of the University when Houston Baptist College began assembling a museum collection that would, according to HBU News, “encompass all phases of American architecture, restoration, decorative arts and crafts, and domestic life in America, especially Texas.”
In 1981, the late Joella Morris founded what would become the Museum of Southern History, building upon her love for preserving historic treasures.
The collections grew over the decades with the help of the HBU American Museum Society, generous benefactors, and University leadership. When the Morris Cultural Arts Center opened in 2007, the museums finally had a fitting home, alongside the Dunham Bible Museum.
Now, guests pore over household, personal, military, medical, and other artifacts that each tells the story of its time in history. Memorable pieces include a homestead, “Dog Trot Log Cabin” replica, a firearms assemblage, and an extensive doll collection.
Now, many of the pieces on display will come to life in greater vividness thanks to the installation of five iPad stations, starting in the Museum of American Architecture and Decorative Arts. The enhancement has been made possible as a result of a gift from the American Museum Society.
Maggie Brown, director of the Museum of Southern History and Museum of American Architecture and Decorative Arts, said, “Guests will be able to log into an app and get more information about the artifacts. There will be video and audio as well.”
Brown said the goal is to expand the iPad capability to the Museum of Southern History and to include Spanish-language descriptions as well. “My goal is to make us technology-driven and interactive,” she said.
The artifacts are meaningful for guests and for HBU students, many of whom participate annually in “A Piece of the Past” Essay Contest, in which they research and write about a chosen artifact.
“At the museums, you get a hands-on experience of what life was like in the past; you get to see how people lived, including the South and home fronts. You can really experience what life was like at the time,” Brown said. “History in general is something I find interesting because it explains why things are the way they are now. I think it’s really important that we learn history and honor history and learn from it.”