The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum is located in downtown Austin, just blocks from the Capitol building and down the street from the University of Texas campus. It offers interactive exhibits that explain Texas history and an IMAX theater.
Address: 1800 N. Congress Avenue
Phone: (512) 936-8746
Hours: Museum is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday from noon-5 p.m. The IMAX theater stays open later.
Parking: The museum has an underground parking garage with an entrance located off 18th Street. If you purchase museum or theater tickets, you can get a partial refund of the parking costs. The area also has many street parking meters available. Additionally, there is a free parking lot directly across from the Bob Bullock Museum that you can use after business hours (perfect for nighttime IMAX movies).
The museum opened in April of 2001. It was the brainchild of Bob Bullock, Texas' 38th Lieutenant Governor. Here's the museum's official mission statement: “The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum engages the broadest possible audience to interpret the continually unfolding Story of Texas through meaningful educational experiences.”
Outside of the museum is a bronze Lone Star sculpture that is 35 feet tall. The inside is very elegant; upon walking in, there is a magnificent rotunda with beautiful terrazzo floor. It almost feels like you are in the Capitol building.
Each floor of the Bullock Museum covers a different aspect of Texas history.
The first floor is about land and covers the first meetings between Native Americans and Europeans, early settlers and missions, and the mapping of the state.
The second floor is about identity and discusses Texas history and the significant battles and people who made the state what it is today.
The third floor is focused on opportunity, exploring how Texans have adapted to the land and how oil changed the state. It also covers important technology from Texas, Texas-led explorations and other Texan achievements.
The Bob Bullock Museum houses an IMAX movie theater. The theater has 400 seats. It is unique in that it is equipped with projectors for 2D, 3D and 35 millimeter films. Coming soon: A new laser system is being installed to further enhance the IMAX presentation; the new system is scheduled to debut in late 2016.
Nearly every weekday year-round, the IMAX theater features a film called Texas: The Big Picture, which explores the myths and magnificence of the state. The theater features typical museum IMAX films, such as Under the Sea 3D, but it also features major Hollywood films, such as movies from the Harry Potter series. Some of the Hollywood movies are shown in 3D.
The Texas Spirit Theater
Located inside the Bullock Museum, this is the largest multimedia special effects theater in Texas. It contains 200 seats and three screens. The theater is used as an auditorium for events such as guest lectures and Storyteller Programs.
The theater’s main show is a special effects film production called Star of Destiny. It is about Texas history and perseverance. Most of the story is told on the screens, but there are also special effects, such as wind and smoke, to add to the drama of the experience. It also occasionally features other films related to Texas and Texas history.
On the first floor of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, you will find the Museum Store. It is filled with Texas-themed goodies, such as clothing, ornaments, books, movies, jewelry, music, home décor and kitchenware.
If you get hungry while you’re at the museum, go to the second floor and grab a bite at the Story of Texas Café. You can choose to eat inside or outdoors. The restaurant offers chips and queso, soup, salads, sandwiches, baked potatoes and dessert. There is also a children’s menu.
The café is open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lunch is served from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday hours are noon-4 p.m.