For many San Antonians, there are certain places that immediately bring back the past.
That’s exactly what Angelica Docog, the new director of the Institute of Texan Cultures, is hoping to change.
“I think many people still think of us as a beloved icon, which we are, which we love, which we love being,” she said. “However, I think to some of the challenges we have is -- as you know, ITC was created in 1968 and many people still have that image of us of being stuck, for lack of a better term, in 1968."
Docog has the challenge of updating ITC’s image, while maintaining its core mission of telling the stories of the people of Texas. The museum is run by the University of Texas at San Antonio, and is associated with the Smithsonian Institution.
Even heroes that do not hail from Texas like William Travis, who played an instrumental role in the Texas revolution, are important to ITC.
Docog, who is a first generation American, believes as more immigrants make their way to Texas -- and to San Antonio -- the landscape will continue to change. She hopes that will help make ITC increasingly more relevant for the future.
Docog would like people to see the museum as a place of rich history, but one that isn’t relegated to the past.
"I think that’s one thing absolutely fantastic about the history of the United States is that you do not necessarily have to be from that place to make a difference. And I still think that continues today because we see it throughout the wonderful history of our country,” Docog said.
The museum opened in 1968 for the World’s Fair and welcomed three million people in its first six months. It is now in its 45th year of operation.
Today, hundreds of thousands of people visit the museum each year. ITC receives 41 percent of its funding from ticket sales and events and the rest comes from private donations, and the state.
Another reason it is considered a community treasure is because it welcomes children from schools across Texas. Especially with cuts to public education, Docog said, districts are looking to supplement educational materials by looking to ITC for a history lesson.
“We would love for every student throughout Texas to come to physically visit ITC but we know that’s not realistic, so the education team is looking at other ways to disseminate our information,” she said.
One way of doing that is through electronic video teleconferencing. Staff members present several classes each day.
Docog has been on the job a year and a half and has a mountain to climb going forward. With the redevelopment of Hemisfair Park, the museum is trying to figure out what role it will play in the future.
Leaders have said the museum is not actively pursuing a move although the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and another stand-alone building have been discussed.
Docog said anything is possible.
"Part of me is very excited about moving because it gives us the opportunity to almost re-brand who we are and what we do," she said. "However, I am concerned about the space. All of this is still in negotiation."
For now Docog wants to continue working toward her goal of re-branding the museum and reaching audiences across the state and nation. She is spending tens of thousands of dollars to get ITC in front of a diverse group of people who may find what ITC has to offer is unlike any other experience.
"We’re here to help you tell your story. To show that you are as important as the next person or the person who existed 100 years ago," Docog said. "You don’t have to have a famous name, or really do anything famous, invent anything. Just because you’re a responsible citizen you have the opportunity to make a difference so we want to, in other words, help everyone create that legacy. We’re the facilitators of that legacy."
The Institute of Texan Cultures is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.