History like it’s never been seen before. That’s an apt description of the transformation that’s taken place over the past six months at the corner of Houston and Fifth in downtown Richmond.
A $2 million renovation of the Fort Bend Museum will soon be complete. A ticketed reveal will take place on Thursday, July 15, with the new museum officially opening to the public on Saturday, July 17.
Improvements to the original building encompass a complete overhaul of both the exterior and interior. Architecturally, the new museum matches the look of the historic Moore Home next door, with more windows, higher ceilings, and covered porches flanking both sides of the building.
“Think carriage house next to the main house in a unified setting with an expansive lawn and outdoor courtyard tying everything together,” said Claire Rogers, Executive Director of the Fort Bend History Association.
Inside is where history itself will be reimagined. The museum’s larger and more flexible exhibit space will feature newly designed exhibits telling the story of Fort Bend County in an all-new way. Virtually every aspect of the interior has been changed or added. Hands-on exhibits encourage interactivity. Colorful graphics and nearly life-sized cutouts of historical figures tell the story of the initial settlers right up to present-day development of new communities. The space itself is more than a third larger than before, allowing for a wider variety of displays representative of the diversity of county residents and what brought them to southeast Texas. An open lobby with natural light and a redesigned gift shop will welcome guests upon entering and set the stage for all that follows.
Another unique aspect of the new museum is a flexible design concept in the middle of the space. Here, a series of rotating exhibits can easily be incorporated, allowing for new stories to be added or old ones to be retold in modern-day context. Flexibility also means being able to move these exhibits to the side, opening the space to accommodate seating for presentations, guest lectures, and sit-down dinners.
“In this way, the museum can serve as a community resource ⎯ a hub of history so to speak,” said Ana Alicia Acosta, Site Manager. “We’ll have so much flexibility to offer residents. We like to say you could have your wedding ceremony on the front steps of the Moore Home, step into the courtyard for a cocktail hour, and have a sit-down dinner in the new museum ⎯ all without leaving the property.”
The overall project, dubbed “History Rising,” was a true community effort with individuals, foundations, and local companies all stepping up financially to make the dream of a new museum space a reality.
“History really does unite us,” said Keely Knipling, FBHA board member. “It was very gratifying to see all the different people and entities who helped make the dream a reality. We can’t wait to share the finished project with everyone.”
The chance to experience the finished museum will start on July 15, with a special opening night gala. “A History-Making Night” is the theme and guests purchasing a $75 ticket will be the first to step inside. Each of the “New 300” attendees will be featured on a special placard commemorating the event and their presence as the new museum’s initial visitors. Then, two days later on Saturday, July 17, a free “History for All” event opens the doors for a community- wide celebration where food, music, and history can come together.
To learn more about the opening weekend events and the new museum itself, visit: fortbendmuseum.org/historyrising.