all photos by Visit Corpus Christi unless otherwise noted
An inviting portal to the Far East exists right in the heart of the Corpus Christi Bayfront. The Texas State Museum of Asian Cultures & Education Center offers you a first-class ticket for a few dollars and an hour or two of self-guided tour time.
One Woman’s Passion
What began as one local woman’s avid passion for Japanese artifacts has evolved into a handsome inventory of items from all over the Indian subcontinent and Asia. Corpus Christi native Billie Trimble Chandler spent years teaching English in the Philippines and Japan and fell in love with the people, the food, the sights, the sounds – the culture. Her 17 years of travels in the 50s and 60s were documented by the numerous mementos from her journeys.
A warehouse-worth of kimonos, intricately carved jade jewelry, 3,500 Hakata dolls, Haniwa clay-pot art burial pieces and artifacts from the Ming dynasty made their way back to South Texas – one of the largest collections of Japanese art to be shipped to the U.S. at the time – and became the foundation of this unique museum and education center.
A Multicultural Experience
Chandler founded the museum in 1974 to share her love for Japan with fellow Texans. She was especially dedicated to youngsters and spreading her dream of world peace through cultural understanding. That mission continues today. As the museum has grown, so have the holdings. A current exhibit, for example, showcases one entire room dedicated to artifacts on loan from a descendent of the last emperor of Korea. All of this growth and versatility necessitated new digs; the current building was constructed in 1995.
Photo courtesy of Texas State Asian Cultures Museum
The large rooms and lovely lawn are perfect backdrops for events, parties and fundraisers and the upstairs is an entire floor of classroom space; check the calendar for festivals and workshops that bring the entire community out. Come see for yourself, escape the outdoor heat and absorb new information about other countries, peoples and ways of life.
Corpus Christi’s small but elegant museum dedicated to Asian cultures is brimming over with insight. Next time you visit, why not take a few hours to journey to Asia while you’re here?