While many know the Harry Ransom Center as an internationally renowned humanities research center, it hosts many exhibits of interest to the general traveling public. The center, located at The University of Texas at Austin, is home to 100,000 works of art, 5 million photographs, more than 42 million manuscripts and nearly 1 million books. The collection’s highlights include one of only 20 complete copies of the Gutenberg Bible in the world.
The LBJ Presidential Library gives visitors have the opportunity to learn about America’s 36th President, Lyndon B. Johnson, a particularly complex leader. The museum features state-of-the-art exhibitions to highlight many of the critical issues Johnson faced, including education, civil rights, the environment and the Vietnam War. Visitors can pick up a telephone and listen to audio recordings of Johnson as he conducts business. Beyond the political aspects, the museum sheds light on the personal lives of the president and the first lady, Lady Bird Johnson. The library was dedicated in May 1971 and is one of fourteen presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.
The O. Henry Museum is the former home of William Sydney Porter, better known as O. Henry. The short story writer authored such standards as “The Gift of the Magi,” “The Ransom of Red Chief” and “The Last Leaf.” The museum collects, preserves and interprets artifacts and archival materials relative to Porter. Through exhibits, programs and tours, the museum focuses on Porter’s years in Austin. While living in the city, he wrote his earliest stories. The museum is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Susanna Dickinson Museum occupies the house Joseph Hannig constructed in 1869 for his new wife, Susanna Dickinson. Dickinson survived the Battle of the Alamo and delivered the news of its fall to Sam Houston. Houston went on to defeat Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto, winning independence for the Republic of Texas. Dickinson earned the nickname of the “Messenger of the Alamo.” The “rubble-rock” style house, a style of architecture brought to the Texas Hill Country by German immigrants, is the only remaining residence of Susanna Dickinson. The museum displays rare Dickinson family artifacts and furniture Hannig produced.
The Texas Capitol in Downtown Austin is perhaps the most recognizable state capitol building in the country. The Italian Renaissance Revival-style building stands 302.64 feet tall, making it the sixth tallest state capitol and taller than the United States Capitol in Washington. Workers laid the building’s cornerstone on March 2, 1885, Texas Independence Day. The capitol’s exterior walls are faced with red granite, which was quarried from near Burnet, Texas. Detroit architect Elijah E. Myers designed the edifice, which was completed in 1888. The building’s grounds are home to several monuments, including the Volunteer Firemen Monument and the Heroes of the Alamo Monument.